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Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)

Buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum )

Nuclear eudicotyledons
Order : Clove-like (Caryophyllales)
Family : Knotweed family (Polygonaceae)
Subfamily : Polygonoideae
Genre : Buckwheat
Scientific name

Buckwheat ( Fagopyrum ) is a genus of plants in the knotweed family (Polygonaceae). The 15 to 16 species are common in Eurasia and Eastern Africa .

Despite the name book wheat , it is not a grain , but a pseudo- grain , which is particularly suitable for diversifying agriculture, which is otherwise dominated by the sweet grasses wheat, barley and corn. Since the fruits of buckwheat are gluten-free, their flour plays an important role in the diet of people with celiac disease . The best known species of the genus Fagopyrum is buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum ).


The genus Fagopyrum was established by Philip Miller (1691-1771). The genus name Fagopyrum is derived from the Latin word fagus ' beech ' and the Greek word πυρός pyros , German 'wheat' and refers to the beech nut-shaped fruits.


Illustration of Tatar buckwheat ( Fagopyrum tataricum )
Achenes of Tatar buckwheat ( Fagopyrum tataricum )

Vegetative characteristics

The buckwheat species are annual or perennial herbaceous plants or, more rarely, half or dwarf shrubs . They form tap roots . The stem is erect and hairless or hairless.

The alternate leaves are arranged in a petiole and a leaf blade . The simple, entire leaf blades are oblique and triangular, broadly oval, heart-shaped, linear or arrow-shaped with a pointed or truncated upper end. The vagina is membranous.

Generative characteristics

The lateral or terminal, racemose or umbrella-shaped inflorescences contain many flowers. Buckwheat species are monoecious ( monoecious ); the flowers are mostly all hermaphroditic , some flowers are rarely male, but then both types of flowers are on one plant. The perianth is fivefold and durable. The five bracts are no longer growing. There are eight free stamens . The anthers are white, pink or red. The three bent-back styluses are elongated. The scars are heady.

The achenes are triangular and not horned or winged at the base.

Fagopyrum cymosum foliage leaf and inflorescence
Fagopyrum esculentum leaves and inflorescences

Systematics and distribution

The 15 to 16 Fagopyrum species are native to Eurasia and Eastern Africa . There are ten species in China, six of them only there. In many parts of the world Fagopyrum esculentum and Fagopyrum tataricum are feral ( neophytes ).

There are about 15 to 16 types:

Growing areas

Fagopyrum esculentum and Fagopyrum tataricum are grown in the temperate areas of the world. Buckwheat has been cultivated in China for 4600 years and in Japan for 3500 years.

In Austria, among other things, mentions of the Jauntal come from the year 1442. Buckwheat is still cultivated in this area today. For this reason, it is one of the traditional foods in Austria as Jauntaler Hadn .

Economical meaning

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, around 2.9 million tons of buckwheat were harvested worldwide in 2018 .

The following table gives an overview of the ten largest producers of buckwheat worldwide, who produced a total of 96.4% of the harvest.

Largest buckwheat producers (2018)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
1 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 1,134,988
2 RussiaRussia Russia 931.713
3 FranceFrance France 188.071
4th UkraineUkraine Ukraine 137.010
5 PolandPoland Poland 93,599
6th United StatesUnited States United States 84,440
7th KazakhstanKazakhstan Kazakhstan 82,704
8th BrazilBrazil Brazil 66.173
9 LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania 53,426
10 JapanJapan Japan 29,000
world 2,905,294


Peeled buckwheat grains

Buckwheat kernels must be peeled and separated from the skin, as the skin, especially the fruit skin, contains the red dye fagopyrin, which is harmful to health (see next section).

The grains are to barley , grits , semolina or flour , the landscape Heide flour or heath flour is called processed. In contrast to cereals, the grain has no different components that can either be left out or milled with; in this respect there is no degree of grinding and every buckwheat flour is a “whole wheat flour”, even if this is not stated on the packaging.

It is primarily used to make porridge dishes, but also soups, flat cakes and pasta . From an admixture of 20% to wheat or rye flour, the bread can be called buckwheat bread. Buckwheat flour cannot be baked on its own due to the lack of gluten . Buckwheat groats are as filling as millet due to their high swelling capacity . Buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup are a popular specialty in North America . The Breton galette ( Breton Krampouezhenn ) is also made from buckwheat flour, it is the hearty variant of the crepe , which is better known in German-speaking countries . Buckwheat noodles (soba) and buckwheat tea (sobacha) have a firm place in Japanese cuisine .

Buckwheat is now also being tested as an energy crop for biogas plants. Because it has such a short vegetation period, it can be grown after the grain harvest and blooms until late autumn.


The red-colored skin that surrounds the grains can trigger allergies after consumption ( fagopyrism ), which can lead to skin eczema when exposed to sunlight . Therefore, warnings should be given against the consumption of unpeeled buckwheat grains. Unpeeled buckwheat should therefore be washed hot or boiled before consumption. The red slime should be skimmed off.


Web links

Commons : Buckwheat ( Fagopyrum )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Buckwheat  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Jauntaler Hadn . Entry No. 77 in the register of traditional foods of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism . Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  2. a b c Harold R. Hinds, Craig C. Freeman: Fagopyrum. - Same text online as the printed work , In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (Ed.): Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 5: Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae, part 2 , Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford 2005, ISBN 0-19-522211-3 .
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k Li Anjen, Suk-pyo Hong: Fagopyrum. , Pp. 320–323 - the same text online as the printed work , In: Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (eds.): Flora of China. Volume 5: Ulmaceae through Basellaceae , Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing and St. Louis 2003, ISBN 1-930723-27-X .
  4. a b c d e Fagopyrum in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  5. Fagopyrum tataricum (L.) Gaertn., Tatar buckwheat. In: FloraWeb.de.
  6. Crops> Buckwheat. In: Official FAO production statistics for 2018. fao.org, accessed on April 2, 2020 .
  7. a b Ternes, Täufel, Tunger, Zobel: Food Lexicon . Behr's Verlag, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-89947-165-2 .
  8. Biogas Bavaria: New and rediscovered types of energy plants