Alpine fleeceflower is a large and robust perennial wildflower that can often be a significant component of some mountain meadows in the West. It is native to the western United States including, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. It is also known by the additional common names, poke knotweed, alpine knotweed, smartweed, or pokeweed It is equally likely to be found in wet meadows, as well as dry meadows, slopes or ridges, but it will grow thicker colonies and taller plants in areas with more moisture. It is associated with red fir and subalpine forest plant communities, at least in the southern part of its range.
Alpine fleeceflower is a member of the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) plant family and can be short statured or very tall depending on available soil moisture and soil productivity. It can grow between 1.5-6′ tall, more typically in the 2.5-4′ height range, arising from a branched crown and thick roots. It has large, green, shiny and lance-shaped (lanceolate) leaves. Alpine fleeceflower blooms June-August, depending on elevation. The flowers are arranged in long, terminal panicles, or branching clusters, of many white to greenish white flowers with protruding stamens tipped with yellow to pink anthers.
Although it is often very abundant in mountain meadows in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, alpine fleeceflower gets little recognition despite the important role it plays in meadow ecosystems. It is a larval host plant for Edith’s copper butterfly and other lepidoptera species. The flowers are favored by a wide variety of pollinating insects, including bumble bees. This species has long been used culturally for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Grow in a sunny, moist to medium-moist location.
Note: The botanical name for this species varies.
Calflora uses Aconogonon phytolaccifolium
Oregon flora and iNaturalist use Koenigia phytolaccifolia
USDA Plants database still uses Polygonum phytolaccifolium
Alpine fleeceflower (Koenigia phytolaccifolia) seed packets contain approximately 100 seeds per packet.
Seed Germination Instructions
Sow outside in fall to early winter.