Bistorta plumosa is a perennial herb in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) with a characteristic dense spike of pink flowers that grows in moist peaty areas from muskeg into tundra. Plants grow 15-30 cm tall from a thick, hard rhizome. Leaves are simple, alternate, elliptic to oblong, with entire margins and winged petioles. Leaves are dark green above and gray beneath. Stems are single to several per plant, with several sheathing stem leaves. Stems terminate in a compact spike of numerous small pink flowers, usually more than 1 cm across. Flowers are perfect. Meadow bistort is a distinctive member of the flora; no other species has a similar fat spike of tightly-packed small pink flowers.
Bistorta plumosa is perennial and deciduous. It flowers mid-summer.
Bistorta plumosa is monoecious with bisexual flowers. Flowers are insect pollinated. Seeds do not have any special adaptations for dispersal.
Leaves can be used as a spinach substitute and are reportedly high in vitamins A and C.
Bistorta plumosa is an amphi-Beringian species with an arctic-alpine distribution. In North America, it occurs in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territory. In Alaska, this species occurs statewide except it is rare or absent in the Aleutians and southeastern panhandle. In Denali, B. plumosa is common and widespread in suitable habitat, occurring primarily in the mountains on both sides of the Alaska Range.
Polygonum bistorta is found at elevations from 289 m to 1575 m with an average plot elevation of 944 m. It is more common on north facing aspects. It prefers moderately angled sites, with an average plot slope of 11 degrees.