Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Polygonaceae, Buckwheat Family

In North America Polygonaceae or the Buckwheat Family is well represented with more than 30 genera and over 780 accepted taxa. Species are found throughout all of North America and northern Mexico.

Worldwide according to the Plant List, Polygonaceae includes almost 60 genera and approximately 1,380 accepted species names. By far the 2 largest genera include Eriogonum with over 250 species and Polygonum with more than 200 species.

Polygonum is found throughout North America and Greenland while Eriogonum also occurs throughout North America. In the United States some members of this family are often referred to as knotweeds and smartweeds. Other large North American species include Rumex with almost 60 species and 75 accepted taxa overall and the genus Chorizanthe has 33 species with 51 accepted taxa overall.

As far as important economic species go, Polygonaceae contain some of the most notorious weeds, including species of Persicaria, Emex, Rumex, and Polygonum, such as Japanese Knotweed. Some species in the Buckwheat Family are cultivated as ornamentals. The genus Triplaris is known for its lumber production. Coccoloba is a genus of approximately 200 species native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, in South America, the Caribbean and Central America. Two species extend to Florida and one species, native to south Florida, Coccoloba uvifera (Seagrape and Baygrape) has fruits that are made into jelly and commercially sold. Seeds of Fagopyrum are made into a dark flour and the stems (petioles) of Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) are eaten as a bitter food item; leaves of common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) are used as a garnish in salads.

In Arizona the largest genera include Polygonum, Eriogonum and Rumex.

  • Antigonon leptopus, Coral Vine
  • Chorizanthe brevicornu, Brittle Spineflower
  • Chorizanthe rigida, Rigid Spineflower
  • Eriogonum abertianum, Abert's Buckwheat
  • Eriogonum deflexum, Skeleton Weed
  • Eriogonum fasciculatum, Flat-top Buckwheat
  • Eriogonum inflatum, Desert Trumpet
  • Eriogonum trichopes, Little Deserttrumpet
  • Eriogonum umbellatum, Sulphur-Flower Buckwheat
  • Eriogonum wrightii, Wright Buckwheat
  • Gilmania luteola, Goldencarpet
  • Persicaria lapathifolia, Curlytop Knotweed
  • Polygonum argyrocoleon, Silversheath Knotweed
  • Date Family Profile Completed:05/30/2016
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database.
    “Eriogonoideae (Polygonaceae) of North America north of Mexico”
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 05/30/2016).
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Polygonaceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 April 2015, 20:37 UTC, [accessed 30 May 2016]
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Polygonum', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 April 2016, 17:42 UTC, [accessed 30 May 2016] )
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Coccoloba', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 August 2015, 14:26 UTC, [accessed 30 May 2016]Wikipedia contributors, 'Coccoloba uvifera', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 May 2016, 00:22 UTC, [accessed 30 May 2016]