Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


buckwheat, common name for certain members of the Polygonaceae, a family of herbs and shrubs found chiefly in north temperate areas and having a characteristic pungent juice containing oxalic acid. Species native to the United States are most common in the West. The largest genus of the family, Polygonum (or Persicaria), contains the knotweeds and the smartweeds, found in many parts of the world. The common smartweed (P. hydropiper) is an annual sometimes called water pepper for its acrid quality. Some knotweeds are in the genus Fallopia, such as the Japanese knotweed (F. japonica), a bamboolike perennial that can exceed 15 ft (4.5 m) in height; introduced to the United States as a landscape plant, it has become an invasive species. Several species of the dock genus (Rumex) are sorrels (the common name used also for the similarly acrid but unrelated oxalis). The garden, or green, sorrel (R. acetosa) and the sheep, red, or field sorrel (R. acetosella) have long been used in Europe for salads and greens. Among the plants used as potherbs are the patience or spinach dock (R. patientia) and the tanner's dock (R. hymenosepalus); the latter is the source of canaigre, a substance used for tanning. Economically the important members of the family are of the rhubarb genus (Rheum) and the buckwheat genus (Fagopyrum), both native to Asia. Most of the rhubarb cultivated for the edible thick, fleshy leafstalks is R. rhaponticum, called also pieplant and wine plant. Medicinal rhubarb is obtained from this and other species of the genus. The cultivated buckwheat (F. esculentum) has been grown in the Old World since the Middle Ages as a honey plant and for its characteristic three-cornered grain, which is utilized for poultry and stock feed. Buckwheat flour is used in the United States, Japan, and eastern Europe; the plant is sown as a cover crop and is a food staple. The genus Eriogonum includes the wild, or yellow, buckwheat (E. alleni), restricted to the Appalachian shale barrens, and many Western species, e.g., the desert trumpet (E. inflatum), a desert flower of arid plains and plateaus. The interesting genus Koenigia has only one species, but it is found in the Arctic, in the Himalayas, and in Tierra del Fuego. Buckwheat is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Polygonales, family Polygonaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
Enlarge picture
Enlarge picture


Not related to wheat or cereal grasses. Buckwheat is related to sorrels, knotweed and rhubarb. Used to make gluten-free noodles and cereal, but can be an allergen to some people anyway. Groats can be sprouted and eaten raw as cereal. White or pink flowers with recognizable triangular buckwheat fruit. Stems sometimes red. Can make tea from triangular shaped leaves. Buckwheat helps strengthen veins, arteries and capillaries while reducing hardness.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Fagopyrum), a genus of mostly annual, more rarely perennial, herbaceous plants of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). The stems are bare and branching; the leaves are alternate and sagittate-triangular; the flowers are monoecious, dimorphous, and heterostylous (having short styles with long stamens and long styles with short stamens). The perianth has five divisions; there are eight stamens alternating with nectaries, and a pistil with three styles and a trihedral ovary. The fruit is nutlike. The genus Fagopyrum comprises four or five (according to some data as many as 15) Eurasian species that grow in regions of temperate climate. Two wild species are found in the USSR: Tatar buckwheat (F. Tataricum) is a weed in most regions of the Soviet Union but is cultivated in Middle Asia as a source of vitamin P (rutin); semishrub buckwheat (F. suffruticosum) is a perennial endemic to Sakhalin. A cultivated species, buckwheat, or edible buckwheat (F. sagittatum or F. es-culentum), is sown.

Cultivated buckwheat is an annual plant 30–200 cm tall. The root is rodlike. The flowers range from white to red in color and have a pungent odor; they are gathered into a raceme, corymb, or dichasium. The weight of 1,000 fruits (nuts) is 20–30 g. The vegetative period is 60–120 days. The blossoming period is quite extensive—25–40 days. There is cross-pollination, carried out primarily by bees. The shoots of cultivated buckwheat appear at 7°-8°C and develop normally at an air temperature no lower than 12°-13°C; they perish in frosts from -2° to -3°C. Dry, hot weather (over 30°C), especially in the blossoming period, leads to incomplete fertilization, which diminishes the harvest considerably. Buckwheat is hydrophilous; its transpiration coefficient is 500–800; however, rains during the blossoming period disrupt the setting of the fruit. The best soils for buckwheat are chernozems and cultivated peat bogs. Sown buckwheat is cultivated in order to obtain the grain, which is processed to make groats and flour. Buckwheat proteins (10–13 percent of the seed) are more complete than cereal proteins. The byproducts of the processing of the seeds—husks, farina, straw, and chaff—are used for fodder. The ash of buckwheat yields potash, the leaves and flowers vitamin P. Buckwheat is a good nectar-bearer (up to 40–60 kg of nectar are obtained from one hectare [ha]).

Cultivated buckwheat originated in the mountainous regions of India and Nepal (Himalayas), where it was first grown more than 4,000 years ago. It was grown on the territory of the USSR in the first century A.D., and only in the 15th century did its cultivation spread to Europe. In 1970 the world planting area of buckwheat was 1,975,000 ha (predominantly in the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Canada); the average yield of grain is 8.4 centners per ha. In the USSR in 1970, 1.88 million ha were planted with buckwheat. The gross harvest of grain was more than 1 million tons, with an average yield of 5.7 centners per ha, and on leading farms the yield was 20–35 centners. The principal regions of buckwheat cultivation in the USSR are the forest steppe of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the central chernozem regions, Bashkiriia, Tatariia, the Urals region, and the Volga region. Regional varieties grown include Bogatyr’, Bol’shevik, Kalinin, and Shatilov 4.

Buckwheat is planted after legumes, sugar beets, potatoes, and other crops. The field is given a fall plowing, is harrowed in the spring, and is then cultivated two or three times with simultaneous harrowing. On turf-podzolic and gray pod-zolized soils, buckwheat needs more nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers; on chernozems, it needs more phosphorus. Among the potassium fertilizers, ash or potassium sulfate are best for buckwheat. Buckwheat reacts favorably to the residual effect of manure or other organic fertilizers. It must be planted in adequately warmed soil. Planting times are selected so that blossoming does not coincide with very hot weather. The methods of sowing are compact-row (15 cm between rows) and wide-row (45–60 cm between rows); seeding rates are, respectively, 80–100 and 45–50 kg per ha. Seeds are placed 4–7 cm deep. Wide-row plantings require between-row cultivation. For the best pollination of buckwheat, apiaries are brought to the fields (one or two bee colonies per ha). When there is rusting of 70–75 percent of the grains, buckwheat is harvested by a separating method. Buckwheat is damaged by psyllas, aphids, and other pests; diseases include false mildew and gray mold.


Stoletova, E. A. Grechikha. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Kopel’kievskii, G. V. Kul’tura grechikhi. Moscow, 1960.
Krotov, A. S. Grechikha. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Savitskii, K. A. Grechikha. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A herbaceous and erect annual belonging to the Polygonaceae family; its dry seed or grain is used as a source of food and animal feed.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. any of several polygonaceous plants of the genus Fagopyrum, esp F. esculentum, which has fragrant white flowers and is cultivated, esp in the US, for its seeds
2. the edible seeds of this plant, ground into flour or used as animal fodder
3. the flour obtained from these seeds
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Keywords: Endophytic bacterium; Sprouts; Microgreens; Buckwheat
Fagopyrum esculentum Moench (sweet buckwheat) and Fagopyrum tataricum (L.) Gaertn.
The buckwheat workshop, and others to follow, will offer a few simple steps towards clean eating.
Stir in the garlic and bay leaf, cook for one minute more, then tip in the buckwheat. Toast the grain for one minute then pour in the wine.
Dish two: seared salmon with nori sauce, crispy buckwheat, gomashio and avocado.
Buckwheat produces flowers that are distylous and self-incompatible, and can be pollinated by wind or insects (Sasaki & Wagatsuma 2007).
It added that 17 ships would be discharging buckwheat, base oil, general cargo, steel products, containers, diesel, petrol, aviation fuel, bulk sugar and empty containers.
Buckwheat pizza A healthier, gluten-free alternative.
[USPRwire, Wed Nov 14 2018] Buckwheat is a fruit seed used as cover crop and is associated to rhubarb and sorrel.