This is smartweed, a member of the buckwheat family. The Audibon wildflower book says of it, "Over 30 species of Smartweeds occur, and are identifed by their spikes of numerous flowers and encircling leaf sheaths."

    They flower through the summer and into the fall. The photo above was taken in front of a neighbor's house on Inman Street. I've noticed a patch of it near where Bancroft Park and Freedom Street meet, and it's quite common elsewhere along roadsides and in overgrowing gardens.
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