|SMARTWEED: LOW, SPREADING PLANT OF WET AREAS|
|...WITH COMPACT PINK FLOWER SPIKES|
The Smartweed genus, Polygonum, in the Polygonum Family (Polgonaceae), is comprised of upwards of 650 species that the taxonomists keep stirring around, so I won't be more definite than to say I think the one pictured is indeed water smartweed, Polygonum amphibium. It is a sprawling and spreading plant of wet places and as the species name indicates can live in both water and on dry land, a true rarity in both plant and animal life. It's pink flowers on upright stems are quite pretty and distinctive, as are its stems with swollen joints at the nodes of the simple, alternate leaves. The vegetative parts of the plants look much different in the two habitats, but the blossoms give it away.
Water smartweeds can colonize large mudflats on the wide rivers and reservoirs of Nebraska and other Great Plains states, and seeing huge acreages of pink flowers in these places when the water is down can be very compelling.
It is a plant that has had many food and medicinal uses for indigenous peoples, and is purported to be particularly useful in the treatment of skin irritations.