Plants (8-)10-40(-50) cm; rhizomes contorted. Stems 1(-2). Leaves: ocrea brown, cylindric, 5-40 mm, margins oblique, glabrous; petiole attached to sheath 10-45 mm, unwinged or scarcely winged distally, 30-220 mm; blade lanceolate-elliptic to ovate, 2-12 × 0.5-3 cm, base tapered, rarely truncate, often asymmetric, margins entire, sometimes wavy, apex rounded to acute, abaxial face pubescent with whitish or brownish hairs, glaucous, adaxial face glabrous, not glaucous; cauline leaves 1-3, petiolate proximally, sessile distally, gradually reduced distally, blade triangular-lanceolate to linear. Inflorescences 1, short-cylindric to ovoid, 15-70 × 10-15 mm, bulblets absent; peduncle 1-8 cm. Pedicels ascending or spreading, 2-7 mm. Flowers 1-2 per ocreate fascicle; perianth bright pink or purplish pink; tepals oblong to elliptic, 3-4 mm, apex obtuse to acute; stamens included or exserted; anthers purple to blackish. Achenes brown, 2.5-4 × 1.2-2 mm, shiny, smooth. 2n = 72. Flowering May-Jun. Fields, meadows, arctic and alpine tundra, heathlands; 0-2000 m; B.C., N.W.T., Yukon; Alaska; e Asia. Leaves of Bistorta plumosa are used as a dietary aid and consumed as a vegetable, and roots are boiled and added to stews by Alaskan Native Americans (D. E. Moerman 1998).