Buckwheat

Fagopyrum esculentum

 

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Edible Uses: Rutin.

Leaves - raw or cooked like spinach. Not that wonderful raw, they improve somewhat with cooking. The leaves are rich in rutin (see below for more details) and so are a very healthy addition to the diet. Seed - raw or cooked. A nutty flavour, though it has a somewhat gritty texture. The seed can be soaked overnight in warm water then sprouted for a few days and added to salads. It can also be ground into a powder and used as a cereal when it can be made into pancakes, noodles, breads etc or be used as a thickening agent in soups etc. Rich in vitamin B6. An excellent beer can be brewed from the grain.

Medicinal Uses

Acrid; Astringent; Galactogogue; Vasodilator.

Buckwheat is a bitter but pleasant tasting herb that is frequently used medicinally because the leaves are a good source of rutin. Rutin is useful in the treatment of a wide range of circulatory problems, it dilates the blood vessels, reduces capillary permeability and lowers blood pressure. The leaves and shoots of flowering plants are acrid, astringent and vasodilator. It is used internally in the treatment of high blood pressure, gout, varicose veins, chilblains, radiation damage etc. It is best used in conjunction with vitamin C since this aids absorption. Often combined with lime flowers (Tilia species), it is a specific treatment for haemorrhage into the retina. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested as the plant begins to flower and are dried for later use. They should be stored in the dark because the active ingredients rapidly degrade in the light. Some caution should be exercised in the use of this herb because it has been known to cause light-sensitive dermatitis. A poultice made from the seeds has been used for restoring the flow of milk in nursing mothers. An infusion of the herb has been used in the treatment of erysipelas (an acute infectious skin disease). A homeopathic remedy has been made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of eczema and liver disorders.

Other Uses

Dye; Green manure; Soil reclamation.

A very good green manure plant, it can be used to reclaim badly degraded soils and subsoils. A blue dye is obtained from the stems. A brown dye is obtained from the flowers.

Cultivation details

A very easily grown plant, it prefers dry sandy soils but succeeds in most conditions including poor, heavy or acid soils and even sub-soils. Prefers a cool moist climate, but it also succeeds in dry and arid regions. Buckwheat is frequently cultivated for its edible seed and leaves, it can produce a seed crop in 100 days from sowing, and a crop of leaves in 8 weeks. The seed ripens irregularly over a period of several weeks so it is difficult to harvest, although the first ripening is the best. Plants have poor frost resistance but they are disease and insect resistant. They inhibit the growth of winter wheat. The flowers have a pleasant sweet honey scent and are extremely attractive to bees and hoverflies.

Propagation

Seed - sow from the middle of spring to early summer in situ. The seed usually germinates in 5 days. This is a very fast growing grain. The earlier sowings are for a seed or leaf crop whilst the later sowings are used mainly for leaf crops or green manure.

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