This common but inconspicuous freshwater plant lives at the edges of rivers. Its young leaves and growing tips can be added to a dish during cooking (as a freshwater plant it needs to be cooked) as a pepper substitute. In the same group as japanese knotweed and a close relative of the common weed, redshank.
|Common Names||Water-Pepper, Water Pepper, Smartweed, Arse smart, Marsh Pepper, Tade.|
|Scientific Name||Persicaria hydropiper|
There are no dangerous lookalikes but many of the Persicaria genus are hard to distinguish, with 9 different species and many hybrids. Redshank (Persicaria maculosa) is a common weed but inhabits drier areas than Water-pepper. Its flower spikes do not droop, it has red on the stems, and often dark areas on the leaves. Tasteless Water-pepper is very similar but lacks the pungent taste. Pale and Small Water-pepper are both very similar but with upstanding flower spikes. The clearest way to distinguish the water pepper is the hot taste of the leaves (once cooked if there is any chance they have been in the water).
The leaves are hot or acrid thus the name water pepper.
Common throughout British Isles
This has many common names, several alluding to its acrid taste, arse smart and smartweed.