Skip to main content
A picture of a Bistort


Bistorta officinalis

Also known as

Common Bistort, Adderwort, Dragonwort, Easter Giant, Easter Ledges, Gentle Dock, Great Bistort, Osterick, Oysterloit, Passion Dock, Patience Dock, Red Legs, Snakeweed, Twice-Writhen, European bistort

Photo by GaryHTimlin (All rights reserved)

Full Sun
Moderate care
Frequent watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








2 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Bistort

A photo of Bistort
A photo of Bistort

Bistort Overview

Bistorta officinalis, commonly known as Bistort is a densely flowering perennial that produces upright spikes covered in delicate pink flowers, held above the bright green foliage. Preferring wet soils it is often grown as an ornamental garden plant in the edges of ponds or bog gardens. Needing little care, flowers can be deadhead once they have faded to improve the plant's appearance and prevent it from self-seeding itself around. Native to Europe, Northern and Western Asia, this native species has historically been classified as being part of the Polygonum or Persicaria genera, however, it is now recognised as belonging to Bistorta. Named for the twisted nature of its root.

How to harvest Bistort

Flowers can be cut for floral arrangements Seed collection - Allow seed-heads to ripen on the plant.

How to propagate Bistort


Lift and divide clumps in autumn or spring, replanting straight away.


Sow fresh seed into trays of compost undercover. Plant out seedlings after the last frost. This plant can self-seed, these can be transplanted into a more desirable position in the spring.

Special features of Bistort

Ground cover

Attractive flowers

Wet sites

Attracts useful insects

This species is part of the Royal Horticultural Society “Plants for Pollinators” initiative to showcase plants that support pollinator populations by providing ample nectar and/ or pollen. A great choice for encouraging pollinating insect wildlife into your garden!

Other uses of Bistort

Ground cover, rock garden, wildflower/meadow, flower arranging


This plant has been cultivated as a vegetable. The young shoots, leaves and roots can be steamed or boiled. Used as an ingredient of Dock Pudding, a bitter pudding made for lent. The leaves are combined with Oatmeal, eggs and other herbs.


Containing tannic and gallic acids, the roots and leaves can be used to produce an astringent for the treatment of wounds.

Pollinator Friendly Plants for Summer

Native summer flowering plants that provide the best habitat, shelter and food for pollinators.

A photo of Thrift


Armeria maritima

Explore all

Bog Plants

Browse our collection of plants that will prefer to grow in bog conditions.

Explore all


About usCareersPrivacy policy

Candide is your guide to visiting UK public gardens. Find the best gardens, buy tickets and enter with just your phone. Download the app for offline tickets, community access and more.

Terms & ConditionsCode of Conduct

© 2022 Candide

Made in Bristol