Common Bistort

Persicaria bistorta

Common Bistort (Persicaria bistorta) is a small wildflower native to Europe. It grows on moist soil as a wildflower throughout the central regions of the continent. Because the flowers tend to be showy, the plant has also been cultivated as a garden herb.

Bistort as a Pudding

It turns out that Common Bistort was used in Northern England to make a bitter pudding during Lent. This pudding was made from the plant’s leaves, some oatmeal, egg, and a few other herbs. It is also the principle ingredient in dock pudding or Easter-Ledge Pudding. For those that fancy making this dish, these are the ingredients:

60g each of finely chopped bisort, nettle, and dandelion leaves
6 large blackurrant leaves, finely chopped
1 leek finely chopped (or about 12 ramson leaves)
120g oatmeal
100g whole barley
1 tsp salt
1 egg
butter or bacon fat to fry

A Plant by Many Names

Common Bistort goes by other names, depending on where you find it. It has been called Adderwort, Dragonwort, Easter giant, Easter ledge, Gentle dock, Great Bistort, Osterick Oysterloit, Passion dock, Pink pokers, Pudding grass and Water ledges, among others. Most of these names are in reference to the fact that the plant has been used to make the bitter tasting pudding mentioned earlier.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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