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Western bistort

Scientific Name:
Bistorta bistortoides
Native Name(s):


Bistorta bistortoides is a perennial herb that grows up to 70 cm tall and has contorted rhizomes. Its leaves are generally basal, glabrous and can be elliptic, lanceolate, or lance-linear. Inflorescences are terminal, with short-cylindric to ovoid pedicels. Flowers are bell-shaped, white or pink, with 5 fused petals, 5 to 8 stamens and yellow anthers. Fruits are 3 to 4 mm long, light or olive brown, shiny and smooth. The species blooms from July to September.

Identification Tips

Bistorta bistortoides is distinguished by its short-cylindric inflorescences composed of many small, white to pink, bell-shaped flowers.

Starch granules

This species produces starch granules from rhizomes that are formed in clusters of amyloplasts (sheets) bounded by cell walls. They are observed most often in amyloplasts, but solitary granuless are also present. The heteromorphic granules ares up to 20 microns long, elongated and generally oval, and sometimes with pointed distal ends. The hilum is centric and elongate with asymmetric quadrants.


Bistorta bistortoides grows at elevations from 1500 to 3000 m in wet meadows, streambanks, and alpine slopes.


This species grows throughout the western United States and Canada.


No ethnographic information has been added for this species.

Distribution Map: