This species is better known in the literature as Polygonum salicifolium[
Persicaria salicifolia (Brouss. ex Willd.) Assenov
Persicaria serrulata (Lag.) Webb & Moq.
Polygonum decipiens R.Br.
Polygonum minus decipiens (R.Br.) Danser
Polygonum salicifolium Brouss. ex Willd.
Polygonum serrulatoides H.Lindb.
Polygonum serrulatum Lag.
Persicaria decipiens is a slender, weak-stemmed annual plant with stems up to 120cm long that can be erect or grow along the ground, rooting at the nodes[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people.
Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) - whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
S. Europe; throughout Africa; eastern Mediterranean; Arabia; through southeast Asia to northern Australia.
Wet places and river banks in S. Europe[
]. Damp places, often growing in water, in swamps, at elevations from sea level to 2,400 metres[
].Often associated with Cyperus latifolius, it grows in black humid clay in or near water[
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[
] but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade[
]. Repays generous treatment[
The plant has spread widely from its original range, becoming a weed in many parts of the world from the temperate to the tropical zones. The plant spreads by means of its seeds - these float and can be distributed by water; they can become a contaminant in feed and crop seeds; or can be eaten and excreted by animals[
Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. The young leaves and shoots are chopped, boiled and served with a staple food such as rice[
]. The cooked leaves are slimy, coarse and not very popular - they are mainly eaten as a famine food, being used only when better foods are not available[
The plant is burnt and the ashes are used as a salt substitute[
Seed - raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
The ash obtained after burning the plant is licked in order to treat sore throat and tonsillitis[
A decoction of the pounded leaves is used as a purgative[
The leaves are crushed and rubbed into the skin as a remedy for skin diseases and syphilitic sores[
Seed - germination is usually free and easy. When seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and plant them out when large enough
Division. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade until they are well established before planting them out.
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