The buckwheats are considered a small to medium sized family mostly from northern areas. The many small flowers form a spike. Each has 5-6 sepals that form 2 whorls, no petlas and 6-9 stamens. The alternate leaves are unbranched and undivided usually on the stems but sometimes basal. At the base of the leaves are 2 small structures (stipules) that are fused and surround the stem froming a sheath (ocrea). This ocrea is distinctive to the buckwheat family.