Common Bistort

©Lee Schofield

Common Bistort

Scientific name: Persicaria bistorta
Look for the delicate, pink flowers of Common Bistort in wet meadows, pastures and roadside verges. It is also known as 'Pudding Dock' in North England because it was used to make a dessert at Eastertime.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 60cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to August

About

The delicate, pink flowers of Common Bistort can crowd damp places, such as wet meadows, pastures and roadside verges. In bloom from June to August, this pretty flower goes by a different name in the north of England: 'Pudding Dock' (or sometimes 'Passion Dock') because it was commonly used to create a traditional pudding around Eastertime, probably originating as a cleansing, bitter dish for Lent. Nowadays, many local places have their own take on the basic recipe of Common Bistort leaves, nettles, onions, oatmeal and bacon fat.

How to identify

Common Bistort displays cylindrical, pink flower spikes in summer; the triangular or heart-shaped leaves appear from spring onwards, and decrease in size up the stem.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK, but most common in Wales and North England.

Did you know?

Common Bistort is said to make a delicious food when boiled and roasted. It can also be powdered and made into bread.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.