Authentic Wisconsin.  Lady's Thumb & Pennsylvania Smartweed


Lady's Thumb or Pennsylvania Smartweed in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.


Above: Lady's Thumb or Pennsylvania Smartweed in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin. (9/02/21).


Lady's Thumb - Persicaria maculosa (Introduced/Naturalized)

Pennsylvania Smartweed - Persicaria pensylvanica (Native)

Lady's Thumb and Pennsylvania Smartweed are part of the buckwheat family (knotweed). Persicaria maculosa grows up to 32" and Persicaria pensylvanica grows from 2' – 5' tall.

These two flowers are very similar in appearance and grow in similar habitats. A distinction that I failed to capture in my photos is a membranous sheath (ocrea) that is at the base of the leaf stalk. The ocrea of Lady's thumb has bristly hairs at the top that are about 1/8 inch long. The ocrea of Pennsylvania Smartweed has a smooth top and does not have bristles.

Lady's Thumb flowers are pink to deep purple in color, and densely packed spike-like clusters from 1/2" - 2" long.

Pennsylvania Smartweed flowers greenish white to rosy pink in color, and are slightly nodding with spike-like clusters to 2" long.

Lady's Thumb blooms from July - Sept.

Pennsylvania Smartweed blooms from June - Sept.

Other Names for Persicaria maculosa: Heart's-ease, Spotted lady's-thumb, Redshank.

Other Names for Pennsylvania Smartweed: Pinkweed


For more information on Lady's Thumb, visit Wikipedia.

For more information on Pennsylvania Smartweed, visit Wikipedia.

Or, visit the UW-Madison Wisconsin State Herbarium website page about Lady's Thumb - Persicaria maculosa.

Or, visit the UW-Madison Wisconsin State Herbarium website page about Pennsylvania smartweed - Persicaria pensylvanica.


Lady's Thumb around Marion Dunn Pond in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb in around Marion Dunn Pond Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb around Marion Dunn Pond in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb around Marion Dunn Pond in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.
Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on September 4, 2021.

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Wisconsin Wildflowers


Lady's Thumb
Persicaria maculosa


Pennsylvania Smartweed
Persicaria pensylvanica


Lady's Thumb or Pennsylvania Smartweed around Marion Dunn Pond in Madison, Wisconsin on September 2, 2021.

Above: Lady's Thumb or Pennsylvania Smartweed around Marion Dunn Pond in Madison, Wisconsin. (9/2/21).


Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on July 29, 2019.

Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin on July 29, 2019.

Above: Lady's Thumb in Oak Savanna in Madison, Wisconsin. (7/29/19).


Lady's ThumbLake Wingra in Wingra Park in Madison, Wisconsin on July 30, 2019.

Above: Lady's Thumb on shore of Lake Wingra in Wingra Park in Madison, Wisconsin. (7/29/19).


Lady's Thumb specimen collected on Ripon College Campus in Fond du Lac County on September 23, 1973.

Above: Lady's Thumb specimen collected on Ripon College Campus in Fond du Lac County (9/23/1973).


1898 Lady's Thumb botanical illustration.

Above: 1898 Lady's Thumb botanical illustration.



Lady's Thumb.

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