Smartweed, also known as Biting Knotweed or Water Pepper, is a member of the buckwheat family and is common along stream banks and other shallow waterways throughout North America. It is shown on this hand painted Native American drum together with the spirit of the colorful Brook Trout, an exceptionally vigorous, colorful and tasty fish. In herbal medicine, the plant is added to baths to help ease rheumatism, epilepsy, and for contraceptive purposes.
Lore assigns many strange powers to Smartweed. Placing it beneath a horse’s saddle, for example, is believed to prevent the horse from hunger and thirst. Spreading it around a room, is thought to rid the place of fleas. A Cherokee elder, well versed in herbal medicine and lore, professed its usefulness in catching fish, but would not divulge the secret.