Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum common buckwheat, and Fagopyrum tataricum Tatar buckwheat) is a plant in the genus Fagopyrum (sometimes classified as Polygonum) in the family Polygonaceae. It is often counted as a grain, though unlike most grains it is not a true grass.

Common buckwheat was probably first cultivated in China. Besides the seeds, from which buckwheat flour is produced, buckwheat is also a good honey plant. The flour is made into noodles and into buckwheat groats, often known as "kasha". Buckwheat contains rutin, a medicinal chemical.

Buckwheat pancakes, raised with yeast, were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an agreeably earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste.

The name 'buckwheat' comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of beech.

Buckwheat is also the name of a famous fictional character in the Our Gang series of short films, produced by MGM in the 1930s. This character was parodied by Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s in a story line where Buckwheat is the subject of an assassination attempt in which the killer is, ultimately, Alfalfa.