Fagopyrum esculentum (Buckwheat)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Polygonaceae (Buckwheat)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; roadsides, railroads, waste areas, fields
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:6 to 36 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme

[photo of terminal flower cluster] Branching cluster, usually crowded and compact at the top of the stem, plus densely packed, long-stalked, spike-like racemes to 3 inches long arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are about ¼ inch across, somewhat bell-shaped with 5 spreading tepals (petals and similar sepals) that are white, often greenish at the base. In the center is a 3-parted style surrounded by a ring of yellow glands and 8 stamens with white or pink tips. Cluster stalks are hairless or hairy in lines.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of mid-stem leaf] Leaves are alternate, 1 to 3 inches long and about as wide, triangular to arrowhead-shaped, tapered to a pointed tip (often abruptly so), straight across to slightly heart-shaped to angularly lobed at the base, toothless, and hairless except for a fringe of fine hairs around the edges. Lower leaves are long stalked, becoming shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. Leaves are often wavy around the edge.

[photo of ocrea and stem] At the base of the leaf stalk is a green to reddish, membranous sheath (ocrea) with pale ribbing, its upper edge smooth to jagged, the base finely short-hairy. Stems are erect, green or red, smooth to ridged, unbranched or branching in the upper plant, mostly hairless except for fine lines of hairs on the upper stem and at the leaf nodes.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a dry seed (achene), up to ¼ inch long, much longer than the tepals, strongly 3-sided, minutely winged along the angles, smooth across the surface, light brown at maturity sometimes with darker streaks.


Buckwheat, related to Docks and Smartweeds, is one of the showier members of the Polygonaceae family. Originating in Asia, it was introduced to the rest of the world as a cereal crop and is now often used as a cover crop. It escapes cultivation but does not typically persist in the wild for long. It is one of the easier Polygonaceae species to ID from the upright habit, triangular to arrowhead-shaped leaves, racemes of ¼-inch white flowers arising from upper leaf axils and usually a branching cluster at the top of the stem.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Washington County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jordan - Oakdale
on: 2020-08-21 08:28:39

A handful of these showed up in my gardens this year.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.