Polygonum alpinum All. Polygonaceae. Alpine Knotweed.
Southern Europe and northern Asia. This plant is called by the Russians kizlez or kapousta, by the Baschkirs kamouslouk and is eaten.
Polygonum bistorta Linn. Bistort. Snakeweed.
Northern regions. The leaves "are by some boiled in the spring and eaten as greens." Though very astringent and bitter to the taste in a raw state, says Johnson, the root contains an abundance of starch and, after being steeped in water and roasted, becomes edible. A considerable quantity of the root thus prepared is consumed in Russia and Siberia in times of scarcity, as a substitute for bread. In the southern counties of England, the young shoots were formerly in request as an ingredient in herb puddings and as a green vegetable but they are now little used. The root, called ma-shu by the western Eskimos, says Seemann, is an article of food with them and, after being roasted in the ashes, is not unlike a potato, though not so soft and nutritious.
Polygonum multiflorum Thunb.
China and Japan. The roots are used as food.
Polygonum odoratum Lour.
Cochin China. This species, according to Loudon, is cultivated throughout Cochin China as an excellent vegetable for eating with boiled meat and fish.
Polygonum viviparum Linn. Serpent Grass.
Arctic regions and mountains south to the shore of Lake Superior. Its roots, according to Gmelin, are collected by the Samoyedes and eaten. Lightfoot says the people of Kamchatka and sometimes the Norwegians, when pressed with hunger, feed upon the roots. In Sweden it is called mortog or swinegrass.