Polygonum aviculare (knot-grass, door-weed, mat-grass, pink-weed, bird-grass, stone-grass, way-grass, goose-grass, wiregrass)

description: summer annual

place of origin: Europe

urban habitat: commonly found on roadsides, compacted soil, pavement openings, trampled lawns, neglected cultivated landscapes, stone walls, railway embankments.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground, can survive in stressed areas where other species do not grow well; food for wildlife.

history: Polygonum aviculare arrived in North America soon after colonization and by 1847 was noted as being commonplace. It is now considered to be the most widespread weed in the world. It was used in Europe medicinally for the treatment of inflammations, wounds, hemorrhoids, and nosebleeds. In North America, many Native American tribes used the plant for its astringent properties to treat wounds, as an analgesic for pain, to prevent abortion, and to treat stomachache, diarrhea, urinary problems. Recent research has demonstrated the plant to be useful treatment for bacterial dysentery. The leaves are edible and are rich in zinc, although they contain oxalic acid which can cause mineral deficiencies in some people.