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Either of two species (Fagopyrum esculentum, or sagittatum, and F. tataricum) of herbaceous plants and their edible, triangular seeds, used as a cereal grain though the plant is not a cereal grass. It is less productive than other grain crops on good soils but is particularly adapted to arid, hilly land and cool climates. Because it matures quickly, it can be grown as a late-season crop. It improves conditions for the cultivation of other crops by smothering weeds and may be planted as a green-manure crop. Buckwheat is often used as a feed for poultry and other livestock. It is high in carbohydrates and is about 11% protein and 2% fat. The hulled kernels, or groats, can be cooked and served much like rice. Buckwheat flour is unsatisfactory for bread but is used to make pancakes (buckwheat cakes).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on buckwheat, visit Britannica.com.