Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Prince's-feather - Persicaria orientalis   (L.) Spach
Members of Polygonaceae:
Members of Persicaria with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Polygonaceae
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Author(L.) Spach
DistributionMostly in the Mountains and Piedmont; 4 counties in the Coastal Plain. Last collected in NC in 1986; prior to that in 1970.

Native of India; in N.A. -- N.B. to Ont. and MN, south to FL and TX; OR, CA.
AbundanceFormerly uncommon; now rare. This old-time garden favorite has fallen out of favor since the 1950s-60s.
HabitatSandy clay field, drained lake bed, weedy farm, damp ground.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-November.
IdentificationThis species is readily identified by its large size (2-6 feet tall), and its ovate leaves 4-9 inches long, cordate or truncate at the base. The inflorescences are pink to rosy and thick.
Taxonomic CommentsNamed as Polygonum orientale in older references.

Many species formerly treated in the genus Polygonum have been moved to Persicaria, the smartweeds. These are generally erect and tall plants with terminal and axillary floral spikes; most occur in wetlands. Others remain in Polygonum, the knotweeds, which are generally prostrate to ascending and with inconspicuous axillary flowers. They occur mostly in dry soils and tend to be weedy.

Attention must be paid to the small collars at the junction of the main stem and leaf stems (called ocreae) and whether they possess terminal hairs or bristles. Some keys also refer to the even smaller collars from which flowers emerge (called ocreolae). Another important ID character is the surface of the greenish sepals -- whether smooth or dotted with indentations (punctate).
Other Common Name(s)Prince's-feather Smartweed, Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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