Buckwheat (polygonum fagopyrum, Linn.), a species of grain supposed to be a native of Asia, and called ble sarrasin, or Saracen wheat, by the French, after the Saracens or Moors, who are believed to have introduced it into Spain. It thrives on poor soils, comes rapidly to maturity, and is most frequently planted in tracts that are not rich enough to support other crops. It is extremely sensitive to cold, being destroyed by the least frost, but it may be planted so late and reaped so early as to incur no danger from that source. Its flowering season continues for a long time, so that it is impossible for all the seeds to be in perfection when it is reaped, and the farmer must decide by careful observation at what period there is the greatest quantity of ripe seeds. Buckwheat does not exhaust the soil, and by its rapid growth and its shade it stifles weeds, prevents their going to seed, and leaves the field clean for the next year. It is sometimes .ploughed into the ground in a green state for manure.
The seeds of buckwheat furnish a white flour, from which a popular gruel is made in Germany and Poland, and breakfast cakes in England and America. Cakes and a dark heavy bread are made from it also in the provinces of France, especially in Brittany. Its flowers secrete a large amount of honey, and are therefore always covered with bees and in the middle United States it is often cultivated for their food, but the honey is of inferior quality. The grain is superior to oats as nutriment for horses and poultry, and is especially efficacious in making the latter lay eggs. The green plant is said to greatly increase the milk of cows, but according to Thaer and Hauter it produces cramps and a sort of intoxication in swine and sheep which feed largely upon it. - There is another kind of buckwheat, distinguished from the preceding by the sharper angles of its seeds and by its tougher stocks. It is earlier and taller, less sensitive to cold, and produces grain in larger quantity, but of an inferior and bitter quality.
Buckwheat (Polygonum fagopyrum).