Western Isles Wildflowers
Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.
Gaelic name: Glùineach Bheag
Knotgrass is also known as pinkweed, cowgrass, birdweed, stonegrass, centinode, ninety-knot, nine-joints, allseed, bird's tongue, sparrow-tongue, red-robin, armstrong, hogweed, pigweed, pigrush, swynel grass, swine's grass, doorweed and matgrass.
The part of the Latin name aviculare, comes from the word avis which means a bird, and refers to the flocks of small birds that eat the large amounts of seed that knotgrass produces.
Knotgrass is commonly found in the Western Isles, growing on firm ground in waste spaces, paths, and at roadsides. It is an annual plant, 6" to 6' long, spreading it's many-branched stems across the ground in a circular array.
The flowers of knotgrass are tiny, often growing in groups of two to three, where the leaf-stalks attach to the stems. They are usually pinkish, and only 1/8" long. Knotgrass flowers May - September.
The smooth stems of knotgrass have swollen joints.
Uses of Knotgrass
Knotgrass is related to buckwheat, and has similar uses.
Knotgrass also has a long history of use as a treatment for arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions. It is is known to contain silica, helps to improve the elasticity and strength of connective tissues in the body, especially the joints, the plant also works as an anti-inflammatory by helping the body eliminate toxins. Currently it is used to treat arthritis, lumbago, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury (RSI).
It has diuretic properties, and is used as an expellant of stones.
Knotgrass has astringent properties, and has been used in the form of an infusion for treatment of diarrhoea, bleeding piles and haemorrhages such as nosebleeds (juice squirted into nose) and made up as an ointment to heal sores and ulcers.
The infusion has also been used as a remedy for worms.
This herb is a slow and gentle treatment, so treatments may take several months to be effective. Seek the advice of a qualified herbalist for the best course of action.
Knotgrass is a native plant of the Western Isles. We also have Ray's knotgrass growing in the Western Isles. Ray's knotgrass grows on sand.
Photography © Suzanne Harris
Breasclete - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
27th June, 2007