Common Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare)

Also known as Prostrate Knotweed


Division - Magnoliaphyta
Class - Magnoliopsida
Subclass - Caryophyllidae
Order - Caryophyllales
Family - Polygonaceae
Genus - Polygonum


This and Polygonum aviculare are the two common small polygonums in Philadelphia, where both are common. The two look similar but the flowers are different and aviculare has a more upright habit, despite them both being called "prostrate knotweed". Both species go by a variety of names, such as "knotgrass", "birdweed", "prostrate knotweed:, "common knotweed" and even the ever popular "pigweed" is applied equally to either species, causing untold difficulty of confusion. I have chosen "prostrate" for Polygonum arenarum because it usually has a truly prostrate habit, though it may lift up. I chose "common" for Polygonum avicular because it tends to form upright mats from trailing stems, even though it is probably less common than Polygonum arenastrum in the city. Arenastrum has the ability to grow from the slightest sidewalk cracks, while Polygonum aviculare seems to prefer a bit of dirt. It does well in lawns and significantly broken sidewalks.





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