This ubiquitous vine looks a bit like a bindweed until it starts to bloom; then the characteristic clusters of tiny flowers of the knotweed clan reveal themselves. Like bindweeds, it likes to clamber over a fence or an arbor, or—as it did here—over the weeds and shrubbery at the edge of the woods. These vines were growing at the edge of an old cemetery in Beechview, where they were blooming in the middle of September.
Older botanists placed this genus in the large and polymorphous genus Polygonum. Gray describes that genus, the section Tinaria in which he places this species, and the species itself:
POLÝGONUM [Tourn ] L. KNOTWEED. Calyx 4-6(mostly 5)-parted; the divisions often petal-like, all erect in fruit, withering or persistent. Stamens 3-9. Styles or stigmas 2 or 3; achene accordingly lenticular or 3-angular. Embryo placed in a groove on the outside of the albumen and curved halfway around it; the radicle and usually the cotyledons slender. Pedicels jointed. — Ours all herbaceous, with fibrous roots (except in P. viviparum), flowering through late summer and early autumn. (Name composed of poly-, many, and gonu, knee, from the numerous joints.)
§ 6. TINIÀRIA Meisn. Twining (except dwarf var. of no. 29), unarmed; leaves ovate-heart-shaped; flowers in panicled racemes; outer calyx-lobes keeled or winged.
P. scándens L. (CLIMBING FALSE BUCKWHEAT.) Perennial, smooth; sheaths naked; leaves heart-shaped or slightly halberd-shaped, pointed; racemes interrupted, leafy; the 3 outer calyx-lobes strongly keeled and in fruit broadly winged, 10-15 mm. long; the wings often crisped, subentire; achene smooth and shining, 4 mm. long. (P. dumetorum, var. Gray.) — Moist thickets, common except on our northern borders. —Twining 2-4 m. over bushes. (Japan.)