Wild buckwheat

Encyclopedia Article

Wild buckwheat                    Falopia convolvulus L.

Family: Polygonaceae (Smartweed family)
Life cycle: Annual
Native status: Introduced to N. America
Habitat: Crop fields, gardens, waste areas

General description: Vine with alternate, triangular or arrow-head shaped leaves. Stem surrounded by ochrea at base of leaf petioles. Inconspicuous green flowers found in 1 to 3” elongated racemes originating from leaf axils. Achenes (seed) are 3-sided and enclosed within green, winged sepals.

Key ID traits: Viney growth habit, alternate lanceolate leaves with ochrea.

Similar species: Wild buckwheat is very similar in appearance to the bindweeds, but the presence of ochreas and lack of perennial rootstocks simplify identification.

Miscellaneous: Also called black bindweed due to its resemblance to the bindweeds. Historically, wild buckwheat was a problem in small grains due to its early emergence. Tolerance to glyphosate led to an increase in its occurrence in Iowa crop fields in the 1990s, particularly in northern Iowa. The crop buckwheat is in the Polygonaceae family, but in a different genus (Fagopyrum esculentum).

Wild buckwheat seedlings with elliptical cotyledons and arrowhead-shaped first leaf. Other early-emerging seedlings in pic are common lambsquarters and giant ragweed.

The ochrea at base of leaf petiole is a key trait in differentiating wild buckwheat from the bindweeds.


Wild buckwheat vine climbing on scouring rush. Small flowers and fruit visible on horizontal stem.