name = "Common Buckwheat"

image_width = 250px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Caryophyllales
familia = Polygonaceae
genus = "Fagopyrum"
species = "F. esculentum"
binomial = "Fagopyrum esculentum"
binomial_authority = Moench

Buckwheat refers to plants in two genera of the dicot family Polygonaceae: the Eurasian genus "Fagopyrum", and the North American genus "Eriogonum". The crop plant, common buckwheat, is "Fagopyrum esculentum". Tartary buckwheat ("F. tataricum" Gaertn.) or "bitter buckwheat" is also used as a crop, but it is much less common. Despite the common name and the grain-like use of the crop, buckwheats are not grasses (and are therefore considered pseudocereals) and are not related to wheat nor other monocots. The agricultural weed known as Wild Buckwheat ("Fallopia convolvulus") is in the same family, but not closely related to the crop species.Within "Fagopyrum", the cultivated species are in the cymosum group, with "F. cymosum" L. (perennial buckwheat), "F. giganteum" and "F. homotropicum". [cite journal|author=T. Sharma, S. Jana|year=2002|title=Species relationships in "Fagopyrum" revealed by PCR-based DNA fingerprinting|journal= Theoretical and Applied Genetics
] The wild ancestor of common buckwheat is "F. esculentum" ssp."ancestrale". "F. homotropicum" is interfertile with "F. esculentum" and the wild forms have a common distribution, in Yunnan. The wild ancestor of tartary buckwheat is "F. tataricum" ssp. "potanini". [cite journal|author=Ohnishi, O., Matsuoka, Y.|year=1996|title=Search for the wild ancestor of buckwheat II. Taxonomy of "Fagopyrum" (Polygonaceae) species based on morphology, isozymes and cpDNA variability|journal= Genes and Genetic Systems|volume=71|pages=383–390 | doi = 10.1266/ggs.71.383]


The name "buckwheat" or "beech wheat" comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree, and the fact that it is used like wheat. The etymology of the word is explained as partial translation of Middle Dutch boecweite : boek, beech; see PIE bhago- + weite, wheat.


Common buckwheat was domesticated and first cultivated in southeast Asia, possibly around 6000 BC, and from there spread to Europe and to Central Asia and Tibet. Domestication most likely took place in the western Yunnan region of China. [cite journal
author=Ohnishi, O
title=Search for the wild ancestor of buckwheat III. The wild ancestor of cultivated common buckwheat, and of tatary buckwheat
journal=Economic Botany
] Buckwheat is documented in Europe in the Balkans by at least the Middle Neolithic (circa 4000 BC) and the oldest known remains in China so far date to circa 2600 BC, and buckwheat pollen has been found in Japan from as early as 4000 BC. It is the world's highest elevation domesticate, being cultivated in Yunnan on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau or on the Plateau itself. Buckwheat was one of the earliest crops introduced by Europeans to North America. Dispersal around the globe was complete by 2006, when a variety developed in Canada was widely planted in China.

Buckwheat is a short season crop that does well on low-fertility or acidic soils, but the soil must be well drained. Too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, will reduce yields. In hot climates, it can only be grown by sowing late in the season, so that it will bloom in cooler weather. The presence of pollinators greatly increases the yield. The nectar from buckwheat flower makes a dark colored honey. Buckwheat is sometimes used as a green manure, as a plant for erosion control, or as wildlife cover and feed.

Common buckwheat is by far the most important buckwheat species, economically, accounting for over 90% of the world's buckwheat production. A century ago, Russia was the world leader in buckwheat production. [cite web
title=The Plight of Russian Buckwheat
author=William Pokhlyobkin
ru icon Title in Russian: Тяжёлая судьба русской гречихи
] Growing areas in the Russian Empire were estimated at 6.5 million acres (26,000 km²), followed by those of France (0.9 million acres; 3,500 km²). [cite book
author=J. R. N. Taylor, P. S. Belton
title=Pseudocereals and Less Common Cereals
] In 1970 the Soviet Union grew an estimated 4.5 million acres (18,000 km²) of buckwheat. Today China is the world's top producer. Japan, Poland, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia also grow significant quantities of buckwheat.

In the northeastern United States, buckwheat was a common crop in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cultivation declined sharply in the 20th century due the use of nitrogen fertilizer, to which maize and wheat respond strongly. Over a million acres (4,000 km²) were harvested in the United States in 1918. By 1954 that had declined to 150,000 acres (600 km²), and by 1964, the last year that production statistics were gathered, only 50,000 acres (200 km²) were grown.

Chemical composition


The fruit is an achene, similar to sunflower seed, with a single seed inside a hard outer hull. The starchy endosperm is white and makes up most or all of buckwheat flour. The seed coat is green or tan, which darkens buckwheat flour. The hull is dark brown or black, and some may be included in buckwheat flour as dark specks. The dark flour is known (exaggeratedly) as "blé noir" ("black wheat") in French, along with the name "sarrazin" ("saracen").

Buckwheat noodles play a major role in the cuisines of Japan (soba), Koreacite book|url= |author=P. S. Belton |coauthors=John Reginald Nuttall Taylor |title=Pseudocereals and Less Common Cereals |publisher=Springer |year=2002 |chapter=4. Buckwheat |isbn=3540429395 ] (naengmyeon, makguksu and "memil guksu") and the Valtellina region of Northern Italy (pizzoccheri). Soba noodles are the subject of deep cultural importance in Japan. In Korea, before wheat flour being replaced for making guksu, the generic term referring to noodles, buckwheat noodles were widely eaten as hot dishes. The difficulty of making noodles from flour that has no gluten has resulted in a traditional art developed around their hand manufacture.

Buckwheat groats are commonly used in western Asia and eastern Europe. The porridge was common, and is often considered the definitive peasant dish. It is made from roasted groats that are cooked with broth to a texture similar to rice or bulgur. The dish was brought to America by Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants who called it "kasha" and used it mixed with pasta or as a filling for knishes and blintzes, and hence buckwheat groats are most commonly called "kasha" in America. Groats were the most widely used form of buckwheat worldwide during the 20th century, with consumption primarily in Russia, Ukraine and Poland.

Buckwheat pancakes, sometimes raised with yeast, are eaten in several countries. They are known as buckwheat blinis in Russia, galettes in France (savoury crêpes which are especially associated with Brittany), ployes in Acadia and "boûketes" (that is, named the same as the plant they are made of) in Wallonia. Similar pancakes were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste. In Ukraine, yeast rolls called "hrechanyky" are made from buckwheat.

Farina made from groats are used for breakfast food, porridge, and thickening materials in soups, gravies, and dressings. In Korea, buckwheat starch is used to make a jelly called memilmuk. It is also used with wheat, maize or rice in bread and pasta products.

Buckwheat contains no gluten, and can thus be eaten by people with coeliac disease or gluten allergies. Many bread-like preparations have been developed.

Besides the seeds, from which buckwheat flour is produced, buckwheat is also a good honey plant, producing a dark, strong monofloral honey.

Buckwheat greens can be eaten. However, if consumed in sufficient quantities, the greens, or, more commonly, their juice, can induce sensitization of the skin to sunlight known as fagopyrism. [cite web
title=Are Buckwheat Greens Toxic?
author=Gilles Arbour
month=December | year=2004
work=Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
accessdate = 2004-06-15
] Fair skinned people are particularly susceptible, as are light pigmented livestock. Enthusiasts of sprouting, however, eat the very young buckwheat sprouts (four to five days of growth) for their subtle, nutty flavour and high nutritional value. They are widely available in Japan.

Medicinal uses

Buckwheat contains rutin, a medicinal chemical that strengthens capillary walls, reducing hemorrhaging in people with high blood pressure and increasing microcirculation in people with chronic venous insufficiency. [cite journal
author=N. Ihme1, H. Kiesewetter, F. Jung, K. H. Hoffmann, A. Birk, A. Müller and K. I. Grützner
title=Leg oedema protection from a buckwheat herb tea in patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial
journal=European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
] Dried buckwheat leaves for tea were manufactured in Europe under the brand name "Fagorutin."

Buckwheat contains D-chiro-inositol, a component of the secondary messenger pathway for insulin signal transduction found to be deficient in Type II diabetes and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is being studied for use in treating Type II diabetes. [cite journal
author=Kawa, J.M., Taylor, C.G., Przybylski, R.
title=Buckwheat Concentrate Reduces Serum Glucose in Streptozotocin-Diabetic Rats
journal=J. Agric. Food Chem
] Research on D-chiro-inositol and PCOS has shown promising results. [cite journal
author=Nestler JE, Jakubowicz DJ, Reamer P, Gunn RD, Allan G
title=Ovulatory and metabolic effects of D-chiro-inositol in the polycystic ovary syndrome
journal=N. Engl. J. Med.
doi = 10.1056/NEJM199904293401703
] [cite journal
author=Iuorno MJ, Jakubowicz DJ, Baillargeon JP, "et al"
title=Effects of d-chiro-inositol in lean women with the polycystic ovary syndrome
journal=Endocrine practice

A buckwheat protein has been found to bind cholesterol tightly. It is being studied for reducing plasma cholesterol in people with an excess of this compound. [cite journal|author=H. Tomotake, I. Shimaoka, J. Kayashita, F. Yokoyama, M. Nakajoh and N. Kato.|year=2001|title=Stronger suppression of plasma cholesterol and enhancement of the fecal excretion of steroids by a buckwheat protein product than by a soy protein isolate in rats fed on a cholesterol-free diet.|journal= Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry|volume=65|pages=1412–1414 | doi = 10.1271/bbb.65.1412]

Upholstery filling

Buckwheat hulls are used as filling for a variety of upholstered goods, including pillows and zafu. The hulls are durable and do not conduct or reflect heat as much as synthetic fills. They are sometimes marketed as an alternative natural fill to feathers for those with allergies.

Medical studies to measure the health effects of buckwheat hull pillows have been performed. [cite journal
author=Chein Soo Hong, Hae Sim Park and Seung Heon Oh
title=Dermatophagoides Farinae, an Important Allergenic Substance in Buckwheat-Husk Pillows
journal=Yonsei Medical Journal
month=December | year=1987
] [cite journal
title=Endotoxin and House Dust Mite Allergen Levels on Synthetic and Buckwheat Pillows
author=Hae-Seon Nam, Choon-Sik Park, Julian Crane, Rob Siebers
journal=Journal of Korean Medical Science

Buckwheat and beer

In recent years, buckwheat has been used as a substitute for other grain in gluten free beer. Buckwheat is used in the same way as barley to produce a malt that can form the basis of a mash that will brew a beer without gliadin or hordein (together gluten) and therefore can be suitable for coeliacs or others sensitive to certain glycoproteins. [cite web
author=Carolyn Smagalski
year = 2006
url = http://www.glutenfreebeerfestival.com
title = Gluten Free Beer Festival


The buckwheat plant is celebrated in Kingwood, West Virginia at their [http://www.buckwheatfest.com/map_wv.html Buckwheat Festival] where people can participate in swine, cow, and sheep judging contests, vegetable contests, and craft fairs. The area fire departments also play an important role in the series of parades that occur there. Each year there is a King and Lady Fireman elected. Also there are many rides and homemade, homegrown buckwheat cakes and sausage.

In Hinduism, people eat items made of buckwheat flour in the fasting days. There are many great recipes available varying all over India. People in Rajasthan and Maharashtra call this KUTTU KA ATTA.

Raw Foods

Buckwheat is also a common ingredient in many raw food dishes. It is easily sprouted and can be dehydrated for later or sprinkled on salads and other dishes.


* cite web
title=Buckwheat pancakes

* cite web
title=Buckwheat noodles with smoked salmon and dill

* cite web
title=Recipe for Buckwheat Porridge


ee also

*"Eriogonum" – North American wild buckwheat

External links

* cite book
title=Alternative Field Crops Manual
author=E.S. Oplinger, E.A. Oelke, M.A. Brinkman and K.A. Kelling
month=November | year=1989

* cite conference
author=Damania, A.B.
booktitle=Proceedings of the Harlan Symposium
title=Diversity of Major Cultivated Plants Domesticated in the Near East

* cite web
author=Chun H.N., Chung C.K., Kang I.J., Kim E.R., Kim Y.S.
publisher=Division of Life Sciences at Hallym University, South Korea
title=Effect of Germination on the Nutritional Value of Buckwheat Seed

* Mazza, G. 1992. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), the crop and its importance, p. 534–539. In: R. MacRae (ed.). "Encyclopedia of food science, food technology and nutrition". Academic Press Ltd., London.
* Mazza, G. 1993. "Storage, Processing, and Quality Aspects of Buckwheat Seed", p. 251–255. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.
* Marshall, H.G. and Y. Pomeranz. 1982. "Buckwheat description, breeding, production and utilization", p. 157–212 In: Y. Pomeranz (ed.). Advances in cereal science and technology. Amer. Assoc. Cereal Chem., St. Paul, MN.
* McGregor, S.E. 1976. "Insect Pollination Of Cultivated Crop Plants", chap. 9 Crop Plants and Exotic Plants. U.S. Department of Agriculture. "As found on the website of the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center of the USDA Agricultural Research Service". [http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/chap9/buckwheat.html]
* cite book
author= Clayton G. Campbell
title= Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentus Moench
series=Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. 19
publisher= International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy
url= http://www.bioversityinternational.org/Publications/pubfile.asp?ID_PUB=343

* [http://www.bioversityinternational.org/Publications/pubfile.asp?ID_PUB=388 Descriptors for Buckwheat (Fagopyrum spp.)]
* [http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11 Nutritional information for buckwheat]
* [http://www.bioversityinternational.org/Plants_and_Animals/Cereals/Buckwheat Buckwheat (Fagopyrum spp.)]
* [http://lnmcp.mf.uni-lj.si/fagopyrum.html Fagopyrum Journal Archive]

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  • buckwheat — [buk′hwēt΄, buk′wēt΄] n. [< ME bok (< OE boc ), BEECH + WHEAT, transl. of MDu boecweit or MLowG bokwete: from the resemblance of the seeds to beechnuts] 1. any of several plants (genus Fagopyrum) of the buckwheat family, grown for their… …   English World dictionary

  • Buckwheat — Buck wheat , n. [Buck a beech tree + wheat; akin to D. boekweit, G. buchweizen.] 1. (Bot.) A plant ({Fagopyrum esculentum}) of the Polygonum family, the seed of which is used for food. [1913 Webster] 2. The triangular seed used, when ground, for… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • buckwheat — 1540s, from M.Du. boecweite beech wheat (Cf. Dan. boghvede, Swed. bovete, Ger. Buchweizen), so called from resemblance between grains and seed of beech trees. Possibly a native formation on the same model as the Dutch word …   Etymology dictionary

  • buckwheat — ► NOUN ▪ a plant producing starchy seeds used for fodder or milled into flour. ORIGIN Dutch boecweite beech wheat , its grains being shaped like beechmast …   English terms dictionary

  • buckwheat — buckwheatlike, adj. /buk hweet , weet /, n. 1. a plant, esp. Fagopyrum esculentum, cultivated for its triangular seeds, which are used as a feed for animals or made into a flour for human consumption, as in pancakes or cereal. Cf. buckwheat… …   Universalium

  • buckwheat — sėjamasis grikis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Rūgtinių šeimos maistinis, pašarinis, vaistinis, medingas augalas (Fagopyrum esculentum), kilęs iš Kinijos. Jo sėklos naudojamos maistui. atitikmenys: lot. Fagopyrum esculentum; Fagopyrum… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • buckwheat — /ˈbʌkwit/ (say bukweet) noun 1. a herbaceous plant, Fagopyrum esculentum, cultivated for its triangular seeds, which are used as a food for animals, and in the US made into a flour for cakes, etc. 2. the seeds of the buckwheat. 3. buckwheat flour …  

  • buckwheat — noun Etymology: Dutch boekweit, from Middle Dutch boecweit, from boec (akin to Old High German buohha beech tree) + weit wheat more at beech Date: 1548 1. any of a genus (Fagopyrum of the family Polygonaceae, the buckwheat family) of Eurasian… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Buckwheat — Stanley Dural Jr. dit Buckwheat, est un chanteur, accordéoniste et pianiste américain né en 1947. Après des débuts de pianiste pour Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Little Richard et Clifton Chenier, Buckwheat s est lancé avec succès dans une carrière… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • buckwheat — [16] Buckwheat has no connection with male deer. The buck element is related to the English word beech, and the name comes from the resemblance of buckwheat (the seeds of bud 80 a plant of the dock family) to the three sided seeds of the beech… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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