Bistorta officinalis

Common Name: meadow bistort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polygonaceae
Native Range: Northern Africa, Asia, Europe
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pale pink and white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 3-8 where it is best grown in organically rich, consistently moist, moisture-retentive soils in full sun to part shade. Appreciates some part afternoon shade in hot and dry summer climates. Plants typically do not perform well in the southeastern U.S. Shelter plants from strong winds. Propagate by seed or division. Foliage is semi-evergreen (retains some green color in winter) in the milder parts of its growing range.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bistorta officinalis, commonly known as European bistort, snakeweed or adderwort, is a vigorous, clump-forming, densely-leaved, semi-evergreen perennial of the knotweed family. It is native to northern Europe, Siberia, Japan and Western Asia as far south as the Himalayas. Plants feature a low mound of dense green foliage consisting of broad-ovate, boldly-veined, medium green, mostly basal leaves (4-12” long and 3-5” wide) with white mid-ribs and pointed tips. Foliage somewhat resembles that of the common garden/field weed known as rumex. Narrow, bell-shaped, pale pink to white flowers (each to 1/4” long) appear in a late spring to mid-summer bloom. Flowers are in showy, cylindrical, terminal, bottlebrush-like flower spikes (each to 3-6” long) atop long slender leafless stems which rise well above the basal foliage to 24-30” tall.

Formerly known as Polygonum bistorta which is now considered to be a synonym.

Specific epithet means twice twisted from the Latin words bis meaning twice and tortus meaning twisted in reference to the twisted root system.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Excellent ground cover. Edging for border fronts. Rock gardens. Cottage gardens. Informal gardens. Pond or stream margins. Boggy areas. Containers. Flowers are sometimes grown commercially for the cut flower industry.