Herb: Red Leg

Latin name: Polygonum persicaria

Synonyms: Persicaria maculosa, Persicaria persicaria

Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Medicinal use of Red Leg:

The leaves are astringent, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. An infusion has been used as a treatment for gravel and stomach pains. A decoction of the plant, mixed with flour, has been used as a poultice to help relieve pain. A decoction of the plant has been used as a foot and leg soak in the treatment of rheumatism. The crushed leaves have been rubbed on poison ivy rash.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Damp shady places. A common weed of cultivated land, avoiding shade.

Edible parts of Red Leg:

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked. They contain about 1.9% fat, 5.4% pectin, 3.2% sugars, 27.6% cellulose, 1% tannin. Seed - raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellow dye is obtained from the plant when alum is used as a mordant.

Propagation of Red Leg:

Seed - sow spring in situ.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp shady places. A common weed of cultivated land, avoiding shade.

Known hazards of Polygonum persicaria:

Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) - whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.