Wild buckwheat (Polygonum convolvulus) is an annual twining weed with clusters of small green flowers. The plant was once harvested for food, but it is now a grain farmer's worst nightmare. Wild buckwheat is hard to control, but essential-oil-based herbicides may be effective. Extracts from the wild buckwheat plant are used in some forms of alternative medicine.
Wild buckwheat is an annual plant that grows like a vine. Also known as black bindweed, wild buckwheat is considered a weed to most gardeners. The plant starts by seed and can grow stems up to 3 1/2 feet in length. The leaves of the wild buckwheat plant appear to be heart-shaped, with a sharp point at the end. The plant flowers in clusters during late spring and summer. Wild buckwheat does produce very small dark-brown colored fruit with a single seed. The plant will grow in elevations up to 7,000 feet.
History of Wild Buckwheat
Wild buckwheat is native to Europe and Asia and was once used for food. Ancient people gathered the seeds from wild buckwheat plants and ate them. Today, wild buckwheat is not considered worth eating because of its low nutrient content. It's now a common weed in more than 40 countries. In modern-day farming, wild buckwheat is a major problem for grain farmers, particularly those growing wheat. The weed has developed over the years to hold more moisture, making it a dangerous disease-causing weed for other plants.
Controlling Wild Buckwheat
Because wild buckwheat grows like a vine, it can be a difficult weed to remove. Plus, when the plants are removed, the risk of reseeding increases. It is best to remove wild buckwheat plants as early as possible. Wild buckwheat is also resistant to most herbicides, although herbicides made with clove essential oil may be effective at killing the plant. The weed has become such a big problem because it's commonly found in crop seeds as a major contaminant.
Uses for Wild Buckwheat
Unfortunately, there aren't many uses for the wild buckwheat plant. Most gardeners and farmers are simply trying to get rid of it. However, an extract created from the flowers on the wild buckwheat plant are being used in some forms of alternative medicine for treating sore throats and digestive problems.