Polygonaceae, the buckwheat, smartweed or knotweed family.
Plant: Ascending to prostrate, often branching plant 6"-24", with dense cylindrical clusters of small pink flowers, and narrow leaves with a dark blotch in the center. Stems often pinkish. Perennial
Flowers: Tiny, pink, about 1/6" across, in dense, cylindrical spikes 1/2"-2" long. Four to six (often five) petal-like sepals; petals are absent.
Leaves: Alternate, lanceolate, 2"-6", usually with a dark blotch in the center. Petioles very short, margins smooth. Stem has characteristic sheath where leaf emerges.
Fruit: Glossy black seeds
Habitat: Roadsides, waste areas, gardens and fields.
Introduced from Europe, and sometimes an invasive weed.
The common name Lady's Thumb refers to the dark patch on the leaf, which supposedly resembles
a lady's thumbprint. Called Redshank in Britain, possibly a reference to the pink stems.
This and other smartweeds have recently been placed in the genus Persicaria
by some authorities.
Where to find it:
In cracks by Jefferson road, around the gardens by the lodge, and scattered in
other disturbed areas.