Real buckwheat

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Real buckwheat
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)

Buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum )

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

The real buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum ), also common buckwheat , is a plant species from the genus buckwheat ( Fagopyrum ) in the knotweed family (Polygonaceae). Sometimes it is also classified in the genus Polygonum . Buckwheat is a pseudo-cereals (Pseudocerealie).

In some areas buckwheat is also referred to as heather, heather grain, heather gray caterpillars, Blende, Brein, black Welschkorn, Gricken (lit.Grikiai) or Turkish wheat (in Th. Storm ), which indicates the assumption that buckwheat came to Europe via Turkey got. In the Romance languages ​​buckwheat is called " Saracen grain ", e.g. B. French : Sarrasin. In the Slavic languages ​​it is called: Czech and Slovak : Pohanka (German: "Heidenkorn" ), Polish : gryka (kasza gryczana = buckwheat barley ), Slovenian : Ajda .

The real buckwheat was chosen as Medicinal Plant of the Year 1999 .


Buckwheat inflorescence

Vegetative characteristics

The real buckwheat is an annual herbaceous plant which, as a wild plant, reaches heights of growth of 20 to 60 centimeters, under favorable conditions (arable farming) up to 1.2 meters. The upright stem is not very branched and usually overflowed with red when the fruit ripens.

The leaves are arranged alternately. The lower leaves are clearly stalked, the upper ones are almost attached to the stem. Typical of the knotweed family is the short, bag-like cover ( ochrea ) that covers the stem at the point where the petiole attaches. The leaf blade is triangular, spear-shaped, heart-shaped to arrow-shaped, with a length of up to 8 centimeters, usually a little longer or the same length as wide and always pointed.

Generative characteristics

The inflorescence shafts arise in the leaf axils, above which the short, racemose to umbrella-like inflorescences stand. The hermaphrodite flowers are only about 3 millimeters long. The inflorescence consists of mostly five, rarely only four 3 to 4 mm long, white, pink to reddish bloom cladding sheets .

A triangular nut is formed as a fruit per flower . The nuts are 4 to 6 millimeters long and about 3 millimeters thick with entire, sharp, imperforate edges and smooth surfaces. The fruit is wingless and has a tough skin, which makes up about 30% of the weight and must be removed before it can be used as food. The thousand grain mass is around 16 g when grown in the field.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 16.

Distribution as a wild plant and ecology

Buckwheat is an ancient crop. It originally comes from Central to East Asia. In Central Europe it is seldom found wild on paths and forest edges as well as in debris and weed meadows. The stocks mostly come from cultivation or sowing (e.g. as game or bee fodder) and often only last a few years. The real buckwheat prefers loose, sandy soils that are poor in base and moderately acidic. It occurs in Central Europe in societies of the class Chenopodietea. It is a heat-loving plant that suffers from cold damage even at low temperatures.

Related species

A closely related species is the tartar buckwheat ( Fagopyrum tataricum ). Distinguishing features from real buckwheat: the leaves are usually wider than they are long and the stem is green, not red, at the time of fruiting.

Other relatives of buckwheat are sorrel ( Rumex acetosa ) and rhubarb ( Rheum rhabarbarum ). However, it is not related to wheat ( Triticum ).

Buckwheat origin (red) and cultivation area (green).

Usage history

Buckwheat was probably first cultivated in China . Buckwheat grains have also been archaeologically proven from Scythian settlements from the 7th to 4th centuries BC north of the Black Sea. In Central Europe, it spread from east to west during the late Middle Ages, buckwheat pollen and grains can only be detected from the 12th century at the earliest. In Germany, the first written mention of buckwheat comes from the Leinetal (1380) and from Nuremberg (1396). From the 16th century onwards, it was grown throughout Europe in areas where the climate and soil made it difficult to use it for other purposes.

Buckwheat cultivation was concentrated in Central Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Especially since the cultivation of potatoes increased sharply in the 18th century, which also still thrives on relatively poor soils, the importance of buckwheat as a food supplier has declined significantly. Buckwheat cultivation in Germany had become completely insignificant in the middle of the 20th century, because the use of artificial fertilizers enabled the cultivation of higher-yielding crops even on poorer soils. In the past few decades, however, buckwheat has been replanted as a niche product due to changes in diet. Buckwheat is particularly popular with vegetarians and vegans, but more and more nutrition-conscious consumers are turning to buckwheat and similar products (bulgur, quinoa, etc.). In some Central and Eastern European countries, buckwheat remained moderately popular with the general population even over the 20th century. away, e.g. B. in Poland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine (see chapter preparation).

Cultivation and harvest

Buckwheat makes little demands on the soil and also thrives in otherwise rather sterile heather and moor areas. However, the plant is sensitive to the cold and cannot tolerate temperatures below +3 ° C. Buckwheat needs a soil temperature of over 10 ° C to germinate and can therefore only be sown from mid-May to early June. Due to these requirements, cultivation in Europe is only possible up to about 70 ° north latitude and at altitudes of up to 800 m. Due to unsafe cross- pollination , buckwheat only produces around nine nuts per plant, despite the many flowers.

To obtain buckwheat nuts, they are sown in Central Europe between mid-May and mid-June, and in warmer low-lying areas only in July. The nuts ripen quickly within ten to twelve weeks after sowing, so that harvesting using the combine harvester method can take place between the end of August and the beginning of September. Buckwheat is very sensitive to the weather, which is why the yield is subject to far more uncertainties than with conventional cereals. The yields are around 10 to 25 dt / ha. In particularly good locations (wine-growing climate), buckwheat can also be grown as a second crop after early-ripening previous crops such as winter barley . With sowing dates from mid to late June, harvesting at the end of September is possible.

Buckwheat can also be grown as a catch crop; the flowering shoot can be used as green fodder within six to nine weeks after sowing , but is classified as poor fodder. With catch crops, sowing in Central Europe can continue until the end of July, depending on the climatic situation.

Buckwheat is a good forage plant for bees . Its nectar has an average sucrose content of 46 percent; every single flower produces an average of 0.1 mg of sugar ( sugar value ) in 24 hours . Honey yields of up to 494 kg per hectare of cultivation area are possible and therefore roughly correspond to the values ​​possible with rapeseed or Phacelia . Buckwheat honey, which tastes like molasses, is dark brown in color and viscous when fresh, it crystallizes out coarse and hard over time and then has a dark color.

Buckwheat is of minor importance worldwide today. According to the FAO , 2.9 million tons of buckwheat were harvested worldwide in 2018. Significant quantities were produced in only 29 countries. The largest producing countries are China (1.1 million t), Russia (around 0.93 million t), France (0.19 million t) and the Ukraine (0.14 million t). France and Poland (0.1 million t) are the largest producers in the European Union. In Germany it is still grown (in small quantities) in the Lüneburg Heath , in Schleswig-Holstein , Westphalia , on the Lower Rhine , in the Eifel , in the Hunsrück , in Upper Franconia and in some Alpine valleys .

Use in flower strips and as a catch crop

More often than crop is buckwheat today in seed mixtures for flower strips , for agri-environment or as bee pasture used where it is one of the most common species. The species is found in almost all common annual mixtures, often in high proportions. In addition, buckwheat is green manure, or as intermediate crop used. Desired properties here are rapid youth development with intensive ground cover that lasts until the first frost.

Chemical composition


  • 71-78% in grits
  • 70–91% in different types of flour
  • Starch consists of 25% amylose and 75% amylopectin .
  • Depending on hydrothermal influences, buckwheat groats contain 7–37% resistant starch.
Aromatic compounds

Salicylaldehyde (2-hydroxybenzaldehyde) is a characteristic compound of the buckwheat aroma. 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3 (2H) -furanone , (E, E) -2,4-decadienal , phenylacetaldehyde , 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol , (E) -2-nonenal , decanal and hexanal also contribute to the aroma. All of them have an aroma value above 50, but in isolation the aroma of these substances does not resemble buckwheat.

Inositol derivatives

Fagopyritol A1 and Fagopyritol B1 (mono-galactosyl-D-chiro-inositol isomers), Fagopyritol A2 and Fagopyritol B2 (di-galactosyl-D-chiro-inositol isomers), and fagopyritol B3 (tri-galactosyl-D-chiro-inositol )


  • 0.4 to 0.6 mg / g fagopyrine (at least three similar substances)

Nutritional value

Average content per 100 g of peeled buckwheat:

component in g
humidity 11.2 g
carbohydrates 71.0 g
Fiber 4.0 g
protein 9.8 g
Minerals 2.2 g
fat 1.8 g

The calorific value is 1421 kJ (340 kcal) per 100 g of peeled goods. Buckwheat does not contain gluten (also known as "glue").


Buckwheat grains

Because of the lack of gluten, pure buckwheat is not suitable as the sole ingredient for baking bread, but it is suitable for feeding people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease . Therefore there are now countless recipes with buckwheat flour and ready-made baked goods at the bakery. Buckwheat is mainly sold in health food stores , supermarkets and drug stores as a whole, hulled grain, in the form of groats , flakes or flour.

Buckwheat groats (Russian: гречневая каша (grétschnewaja káscha); Ukrainian: гречана кашка (hrétschana káschka); Polish: kasza gryczana), as a side dish, is very popular in these countries, especially in Russian, Ukrainian and Polish cuisine . Buckwheat z. B. in Poland as a typical side dish to goulash. In Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia you can buy buckwheat in packs [Griķi (Gritji, гречка)], which look like pressure-cooked rice bags, and you don't only find it on the shelves with natural, vegetarian or organic food, as is often the case in Germany and Austria gluten-free products, but alongside rice and other popular side dishes. In northern Italy and the Grisons cuisine buckwheat flour is used as grano saraceno for pizzoccheri and polenta use. The French cuisine used buckwheat flour (under the name blé noir "black wheat", respectively. Sarrasin ) for pancakes, known as galettes . In the Netherlands , approximately coin-sized but relatively thick sweet style pancake, so-called Poffertjes , with a 1: 1 proportion baked wheat flour and buckwheat flour. The Moor colonists in Emsland designated buckwheat pancakes (East Frisian Low German or 'Fries Platt': Book width Janhinnerk ) as their daily bread. This dish is also available in the Eifel , in North and South Tyrol "Schwarzplentn"; In addition, the Bolzano buckwheat cake (Schwarzplentener cake) and the Schwarzplentene Riebler are prepared in South Tyrol . In the USA , the famous pancakes are often made from buckwheat flour. The Westphalian cuisine knows Panhas as a meat pie with buckwheat flour. In Styria , Carinthia, Slovenia and Luxembourg, the Heidensterz is cooked, a strong sterz made from buckwheat flour. In Luxembourg, the Sterz is cut into small pieces ("Stäerzelen") and then fried in a pan, usually with bacon. In Japan , the very popular soba noodles are made from buckwheat from which it is named.

Health issues

Celiac disease, buckwheat disease

Buckwheat blossoms and green parts of the plant contain rutosides , which are used medicinally for venous disorders. It is generally considered to be a valuable food with a lot of protein and starch.

Since buckwheat is gluten-free, it can be used as a diet food for celiac disease (sprue, gluten-sensitive enteropathy). The pseudo-grain is even accepted as harmless by diets such as the Stone Age diet.

In tests with diabetic rats, buckwheat has been shown to be an effective means of lowering high blood sugar levels. Fagopyrin , the red pigment in the fruit peel, can be problematic . If you eat it, the skin can become more sensitive to sunlight (see buckwheat disease ). However, this is no longer the case with hulled buckwheat.

Allergy potential

Buckwheat also carries a high risk of allergies . They occur in the form of systemic IgE-mediated immediate type reactions and can lead to anaphylactic shock.

So far, only a few people have been affected in Germany. With the increasing use, especially in bread , whole-food products and baked goods (increasingly in organic products , but also due to the peculiarity of being gluten- free), an increasing number of sufferers and severe anaphylactic reactions can be expected. With the occasionally very high level of sensitization , even traces can lead to massive reactions. It appears that people who are professionally involved in the processing of buckwheat are particularly affected (e.g. the cases of asthma in pasta production or contact urticaria in a creperie are described). Gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea also occur. Dizziness, inability to speak, and shortness of breath are commonly seen in people who have been exposed to buckwheat flour.

Web links

Commons : Real Buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Buckwheat  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


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