Bistort Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
red bistort 'Firetail'


Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', commonly known as mountain fleece or red bistort, is an attractive perennial that boasts a bushy and clump-forming habit. This plant is easily recognized by its elongated, dense, spike-like flower clusters that gently arch at the tips and bear a striking reddish-pink hue, akin to the fiery tail of a comet. These blooms have a feathery appearance and add a vibrant splash of color to gardens from early summer to the first frosts of autumn, making it a favorite among garden enthusiasts for its long flowering period. The foliage of mountain fleece is equally appealing with its broad, oval-shaped, and pointed leaves that are rich green in color. The leaves are often slightly puckered with a smooth surface and may have a somewhat glossy texture which adds a lush backdrop to the vivid flowers. The leaves wrap tightly around the stem, giving the plant its botanical name 'amplexicaulis', which suggests a clasping or embracing posture. Mountain fleece is a hardy plant that forms an elegant and eye-catching clump, with its striking flowers rising above the leaves on sturdy, slender stems. The overall visual effect of 'Firetail' is of a robust and vibrant plant that adds both color and texture to garden beds, borders, and water-adjacent landscapes. It is known to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to the biodiversity of the garden.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Red Bistort, Mountain Fleece, Firetail

    • Common names

      Polygonum amplexicaule, Bistorta amplexicaulis, Persicaria amplexicaulis

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The Red Bistort is not generally considered toxic to humans. However, as with any plant, sensitivity varies from person to person, and it may cause mild irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals. If ingested in large quantities, it could potentially cause stomach upset or discomfort, but there is no well-documented report of poisoning by this plant.

    • To pets

      The Red Bistort is not known to be toxic to pets. It should not cause serious harm if ingested by dogs or cats. As with any non-food plant, ingestion can sometimes result in vomiting or diarrhea due to the digestive system reacting to a foreign object. Always monitor pets if they have access to this plant and consult a veterinarian if any concerning symptoms arise.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail' is known for attracting bees and butterflies, which are important for the pollination of many plants.
    • Long Flowering Season: It boasts a lengthy blooming period from midsummer to autumn, adding color to gardens for an extended time.
    • Low Maintenance: Once established, this plant requires minimal care, making it a convenient choice for gardeners of all levels.
    • Drought Tolerance: It exhibits a degree of drought resistance, reducing the need for frequent watering once settled in.
    • Deer Resistance: The plant is typically not favored by deer, which helps prevent it from being eaten in areas where deer are present.
    • Adaptable to Various Soil Types: Firetail adapts well to a variety of soil conditions, although it prefers moist, well-drained soils.
    • Visual Appeal: The bright, elongated red flower spikes add a vibrant splash of color to any garden setting.
    • Easy to Propagate: It can be easily propagated by division, allowing gardeners to expand their plantings or share with others.
    • Erosion Control: With its dense growth habit, it can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes.
    • Versatile Landscaping Uses: Suitable for borders, waterside plantings, and naturalized areas, offering flexibility in landscaping design.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Dye Production: The leaves and stems of Mountain Fleece can sometimes be used to produce natural dyes for textiles, providing a range of colors depending on the mordant used.
    • Photographic Subjects: Due to their striking appearance, Mountain Fleece flowers are commonly used by photographers seeking to capture the beauty of garden plants and pollinator-attracting species in natural light.
    • Craft Projects: Dried Mountain Fleece flowers can be incorporated into various craft projects, including flower arrangements, wreaths, and potpourri.
    • Educational Tool: Mountain Fleece can be utilized in educational settings such as schools and botanical gardens to teach about pollination and the importance of native flora for local ecosystems.
    • Livestock Forage: While not a common forage plant, in times of scarcity, some farm animals may graze on Mountain Fleece as part of their diet.
    • Fish Tank Embellishment: Aquarists occasionally use dried or artificial reproductions of Mountain Fleece to add a natural aesthetic to freshwater aquarium setups.
    • Artistic Inspiration: The vibrant red spires of Mountain Fleece often serve as inspiration for artists and designers, influencing patterns and motifs in fabrics and wallpaper.
    • Rain Garden Plant: Due to its hardiness and ability to tolerate moist soil, Mountain Fleece is an ideal candidate for rain gardens which help manage stormwater runoff.
    • Natural Fencing: When planted densely, Mountain Fleece can create a soft, living boundary that offers privacy and a sound buffer in residential gardens.
    • Culinary Garnish: While not commonly consumed, the bright flowers of Mountain Fleece can be used as a non-toxic, decorative garnish for salads and desserts.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    Persicaria amplexicaulis, commonly known as mountain fleece or red bistort, is not specifically used in traditional Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Mountain fleece is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Energy and Enthusiasm: The vibrant red spikes of the 'Firetail' plant evoke a sense of energy and excitement, symbolizing a lively spirit and passionate disposition.
    • Strength and Resilience: This hardy perennial can withstand various conditions, representing strength, resilience, and an ability to thrive in adversity.
    • Growth and Progress: With its elongated, fiery blooms that seem to flicker like flames, the 'Firetail' embodies growth, progress, and the continuous movement forward.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Not needed
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Red bistort (Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail') should be watered deeply and consistently to ensure the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. During hot summer months or periods of drought, watering may be required once or twice a week; adjust according to rainfall. Generally, provide about 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per week, ensuring it penetrates to the root zone. During cooler weather or in rainy climates, watering frequency should be reduced to prevent overwatering and root rot. Always check the soil moisture level a few inches deep to gauge if additional water is needed.

  • sunLight

    Red bistort thrives best in full sun to partial shade. A location with morning sun and afternoon shade is optimal, especially in hotter climates to prevent scorching. Providing ample light encourages robust growth and abundant flowering but avoid placing the plant in harsh, direct sunlight all day as this can stress the plant.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Red bistort is hardy in temperatures down to around 0°F, making it suitable for many temperate climates, although it prefers the range of 50°F to 75°F for ideal growing conditions. It can survive in higher temperatures but may require additional shading and watering. During extreme heat, it's crucial to ensure the plant is kept well-watered to avoid stress.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning red bistort helps to maintain its shape, encourage bushier growth, and remove spent flowers to possibly stimulate further blooms. Prune in late winter or early spring by cutting back the previous year's growth to a few inches above ground level. This is also the best time to remove any damaged or dead stems to encourage healthy new growth.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Mountain Fleece 'Firetail', thrives in a soil mix that consists of rich garden loam, well-rotted compost, and peat moss, providing good drainage and fertility. The ideal pH for this plant is neutral to slightly acidic, ranging from 6.5 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Mountain Fleece 'Firetail' typically does not require frequent repotting and can remain in the same spot for several years. It's a perennial plant that spreads through its rhizomes, so repotting every 4-5 years can help manage its size and vigor.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Mountain Fleece 'Firetail' is adaptable to a wide range of humidity levels, but it does best in average garden conditions with natural humidity. Specific levels are not crucial as it tolerates normal outdoor variations well.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Position in bright indirect light and keep soil moist for best results.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade to full sun, in moist, fertile soil for optimal growth.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', also known as Red Bistort or 'Firetail', commences its lifecycle as a seed, which, when sown in early spring in fertile, moist soil, germinates within a few weeks. From germination, it enters a vegetative growth phase, characterized by the development of its distinct heart-shaped leaves and sturdy stems. As temperatures increase in late spring to early summer, the plant continues to mature and elongate, now preparing for its reproductive stage. During midsummer to early autumn, it reaches full bloom, displaying long, slender spikes of deep reddish-pink flowers that are highly attractive to pollinators. Following pollination, seeds develop and are dispersed in late autumn, allowing for the propagation of new plants. Throughout winter, the plant's top growth dies back, but the roots remain alive and dormant underground, resuming the cycle with new growth the following spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The most popular method of propagating Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', commonly known as Red Bistort or Mountain Fleece, is by division. This is best done in spring as new growth appears or in early autumn. To propagate by division, carefully lift the plant from the ground with a shovel, ensuring a good amount of root and soil is attached. Gently separate the clumps into smaller sections, each with several shoots and a portion of the root system. Replant the divisions immediately, spacing them about 15 to 18 inches (approximately 38 to 46 centimeters) apart to allow sufficient room for growth. Water the newly planted divisions well to help establish them. This method is effective as it helps maintain the vigor of the plant, controls its spread, and produces new plants that are true to the parent variety.