Buckwheat, also known as common buckwheat, Japanese buckwheat and silverhull buckwheat, is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and as a cover crop. A related and more bitter species, Fagopyrum tataricum, a domesticated food plant common in Asia, but not as common in Europe or North America, is also referred to as buckwheat.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Because its seeds are rich in complex carbohydrates, it is referred to as a pseudocereal.
Buckwheat, a short-season crop, does well on low-fertility or acidic soils, but the soil must be well drained. Too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, reduces yields. In hot climates it can be grown only by sowing late in the season, so that it blooms in cooler weather. The presence of pollinators greatly increases the yield. The nectar from buckwheat flower makes a dark-colored honey. Buckwheat is sometimes used as a green manure, as a plant for erosion control, or as wildlife cover and feed.
In a 100-gram serving providing 343 calories dry and 92 calories cooked, buckwheat is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fiber, four B vitamins and several dietary minerals, with content especially high (47 to 65% DV) in niacin, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus (table). Buckwheat is 72% carbohydrates, including 10% dietary fiber, 3% fat and 13% protein (table).
As buckwheat contains no gluten, it may be eaten by people with gluten-related disorders, such as celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or dermatitis herpetiformis. Nevertheless, buckwheat may have gluten contamination.