Microsatellite analysis was used to investigate the patch establishment and development of Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb. et Zucc, a clonal herbaceous plant that dominates the primary succession on the southeast slope of Mount Fuji. Genotypes of P. cuspidatum in 155 patches at the study site differed from each other. This indicates that P. cuspidatum patches are initially established by seed dispersed on the bare scoria field, and not by clonal rhizome extension. Genetic differentiation was estimated using the FST values between subpopulations at the study site. There was almost no genetic differentiation between subpopulations, indicating the presence of massive gene flow. The pollen fathers of seeds and maternal genets of current-year seedlings were inferred from the microsatellite allele composition by a simple exclusion method. The wide, random distribution of pollen fathers suggests that pollen dispersal occurs over a broad area. Maternal analysis showed a tendency for seed dispersal to be biased to the area nearby and down slope from the mother plants. Patch establishment under massive gene flow may result from such pollen and seed dispersal. To understand the process of patch development, aerial photographs taken from 1962 to 1999 were compared, and then genets in each of 36 patches were identified from the microsatellite genotypes of P. cuspidatum shoots. The comparison of aerial photographs showed that most of the patches enlarged each year and that some neighbouring patches combined during growth. Genet analysis demonstrated a high correlation between patch area and the area of the largest genet within it, and that new genets were recruited at the patch periphery. These findings indicate that both vegetative and sexual reproduction, i.e. rhizome extension and the establishment of new seedlings, contribute to the development of P. cuspidatum patches.