Redleg: new name same game



I recently purchased an excellent new field guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland (by Marjorie Blamey, Richard Fitter and Alastair Fitter) and I discovered that this plant I had always known as redshank is now named as redleg (Persicaria maculosa). The reason for the change is, I think, quite obvious. It is to avoid confusion with the bird of the same name, the common  wader with red legs known as the redshank.
The name may have changed but the distinctive features are, of course, still the same! It is a member of the dock family, the polygonums. It is a sprawling plant, very variable in height and usually growing in large clusters. The distinctive feature is its central stem which is, inevitably, red and it has small pale red flowers which are in fact clusters of smaller flowers. Just to be sure, look for the triangular black smudges on the leaves.
This a very common plant of bare, damp ground and is often found on farms and in meadows where tractors or Land Rovers have made ruts that gather water. It is also common in drainage ditches and anywhere there is mud.
Although the plant has advantageous medical properties and 

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