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Eriogonum fasciculatum

(California Buckwheat)


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Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in English:

California Buckwheat, California Wild Buckwheat, Eastern Mojave Buckwheat, Flattop Buckwheat, Wild Buckwheat, Yellow Buckwheat

Common Names in Navajo, Navaho:



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Family Polygonaceae

Herbs, shrubs , or small trees , sometimes monoecious or dioecious. Stems erect , prostrate , twining , or scandent , often with swollen nodes, striate , grooved , or prickly. Leaves simple , alternate, rarely opposite or whorled , petiolate or subsessile ; stipules often united to a sheath (ocrea) . Inflorescence terminal or axillary , spicate , racemose, paniculate , or capitate. Pedicel occasionally articulate . Flowers small, actinomorphic , bisexual , rarely unisexual . Perianth 3-6-merous, in 1 or 2 series, herbaceous, often enlarged in fruit or inner tepals enlarged, with wings , tubercles , or spines. Stamens usually (3-) 6-9, rarely more; filaments free or united at base ; anthers 2-loculed, opening lengthwise; disk annular (often lobed ) . Ovary superior, 1-loculed; styles 2 or 3, rarely 4, free or connate at lower part. Fruit a trigonous , biconvex , or biconcave achene; seed with straight or curved embryo and copious endosperm.

About 50 genera and 1120 species: worldwide, but primarily N temperate with a few species in tropical regions ; 13 genera (two endemic) and 238 species (65 endemic) in China.[1]

Genus Eriogonum

Shrubs , subshrubs , or herbs, sometimes nearly arborescent , perennial , biennial, or annual , polycarpic or, rarely, monocarpic (subg. Pterogonum), synoecious (sometimes polygamodioecious in subg. Micrantha and Oligogonum, rarely dioecious in subg. Oligogonum) ; taproot slender to stout, solid, or rarely chambered (subg. Pterogonum). Stems prostrate or decumbent to erect , infrequently absent, glabrous or pubescent , sometimes glandular ; caudex stems absent or woody, tightly compact to spreading and at or just below surface, or spreading to erect and above surface; aerial flowering stems arising at nodes of caudex branches, at distal nodes of aerial branches, or directly from the root , prostrate or decumbent to erect, slender to stout, solid or slightly to distinctly hollow and fistulose, rarely disarticulating into ringlike segments (subg. Clastomyelon). Leaves usually persistent through anthesis , occasionally persistent through growing season or longer , sometimes marcescent or quickly deciduous, basal and sometimes sheathing up stems, cauline, or basal and cauline, alternate, opposite, or whorled , 1 per node or fasciculate; petiole usually present, sometimes obscure ; blade linear to orbiculate, entire apically. Inflorescences terminal or terminal and axillary , cymose and dichotomously or trichotomously branched, or racemose, simple or compound-umbellate, subcapitate , or capitate, occasionally distally uniparous due to suppression of secondary branches; branches mostly dichotomous except for initial trichotomous node, not brittle or disarticulating into segments, round and smooth , rarely grooved , angled or ridged , variously lanate , tomentose , floccose , sericeous , hispid , pilose-pubescent, or puberulent , occasionally glandular, rarely scabrellous; bracts 2-13 or more at proximal nodes, usually 3 distally, connate proximally, leaflike, semileaflike, or scalelike, not awn-tipped, glabrous or variously pubescent or glandular. Peduncles absent or erect to deflexed . Involucres 1-8 or more per cluster , smooth or ribbed , tubular , cylindric or narrowly turbinate to broadly campanulate or hemispheric ; teeth 5-10, sometimes lobelike, not awned . Flowers bisexual or, infrequently, unisexual , (2-) 6-100 per involucre at any single time during full anthesis, sometimes with stipelike base ; perianth usually white to red or variously yellow, broadly campanulate when open, cylindric to urceolate when closed , glabrous or pubescent or glandular abaxially; tepals 6, connate proximally to 2 their length , monomorphic or dimorphic , usually entire apically, rarely emarginate ; stamens 9; filaments adnate basally, glabrous or pubescent; anthers usually red to cream or yellow, oblong to ellipsoid or oval . Achenes included to exserted, various shades of brown, black, or occasionally yellow, rarely winged or ridged (subg. Pterogonum), lenticular or 3-gonous, glabrous or pubescent. Seeds: embryo curved or straight. x = 10.

Species ca. 250: North America (including n Mexico).

Eriogonum is the basal group of subfam. Eriogonoideae. Like all of its related genera, Eriogonum is a highly derived tetraploid taxon that has undergone rapid evolution in arid regions of western North America. The circumscription of the genera in the subfamily is now being studied molecularly and cladistically. The approach taken here is to divide the group into numerous genera, acknowledging that the resulting Eriogonum remains paraphyletic and that all genera of Eriogoneae are imbedded within Eriogonum as presently circumscribed. Resolution may well come with the reduction of the subfamily to two genera, Eriogonum and Pterostegia (including Harfordia Greene, a genus of Baja California, Mexico), or, at the other extreme, reducing Eriogonum to just two species. What the future will hold is difficult to ascertain at this time.

As presently circumscribed, Eriogonum is one of the larger genera in the flora area, being exceeded in numbers of species only by Carex (ca. 480), Astragalus (ca. 350), and Penstemon (ca. 250). As a native North American genus, Eriogonum (ca. 250) is second only to Penstemon. Ecologically, species of Eriogonum occur from the seashore to the highest mountains in the United States. They are among the last plants seen atop the Sierra Nevada and on the €œoutskirts€ of Badwater in Death Valley. About one-third of the species are uncommon to rare in their distribution. The United States Department of the Interior currently lists some as endangered or threatened species. Some species tend to be weedy, and some of the annual species are aggressively so.

Species of Eriogonum have long been regarded as among the most difficult in North America to distinguish. Regional treatments should be consulted before attempting to use this review, especially for plants found outside California or the Intermountain West. Geographic distribution is a useful character, and such information is given fully in keys and discussion here to aid with identification. In addition to regional keys noted below, keys exist for Texas (J. L. Reveal 1970b), the Pacific Northwest (J. L. Reveal 1973), and the Great Plains (R. Kaul 1986). In each instance the nomenclature should be compared with that presented here. To aid in the identification of species belonging to the largest subgenus , Eucycla, regional keys are given here, thereby avoiding a long and complex key to the more than 100 species.

In collecting specimens of Eriogonum, try to obtain leaves (especially for annuals), fruits (especially those belonging to subg. Pterogonum), and ample flowers (rarely difficult to accomplish). Field observations on flower color, pubescence , and overall size and habit are useful. Some species (especially those of subg. Oligogonum) are dioecious, with the mature staminate and pistillate plants occasionally markedly different in aspect . It is not uncommon for several annual species to grow intermixed in disturbed places, so care must be taken to prevent mixed collections . Finally, as in all cases, collectors should try to sample the range of variation rather than concentrate on extremes.

Eriogonum has a long history of aboriginal use. Today, several members of the genus are in cultivation, especially in the rock or alpine garden (G. Nicholls 2002).

Members of Eriogonum are hosts for a number of butterfly species, including such endangered ones as the El Segundo dotted-blue (Euphilotes battoides allyni), Smith's dotted blue (Euphilotes enoptes smithi), and Lange's metalmark (Apodemia mormo Iangei). Species of the genus Euphilotes spend their entire life on particular species complexes. Other butterfly species found in association with Eriogonum and relatives (see P. A. Opler and A. B . Wright 1999) include the western green hairstreak (Callophrys affinis), desert green or Comstock's hairstreak (C. comstocki), bramble hairstreak (C. dumetorum), Lembert's hairstreak (C. lemberti), Sheridan's green hairstreak (C. sheridani), green hairstreak (C. viridis), varied blue (Chalceria heteronea), Rocky Mountain dotted-blue (Euphilotes ancilla), Bauer's dotted-blue (E. baueri), Bernardino dotted-blue (E. bernardino), Ellis's dotted-blue (E. ellisi), Pacific dotted-blue (E. enoptes), intermediate dotted-blue (E. intermedia), Mojave dotted-blue (E. mojave), pallid dotted-blue (E. pallescens), Rita dotted-blue (E. rita), Spalding's dotted-blue (E. spaldingi), Gorgon copper (Gaeides gorgon), gayas or Edward's blue (Hemiargus ceranus gyas), blue copper (Lycaena heteronea), small blue (Philotiella speciosa), Boisduval's blue (Plebeius icarioides), acmon blue (P. acmon), lupine blue (P. lupini), veined blue (P. neurona), California hairstreak (Satyrium californica), nut-brown hairstreak (S. saepium), Avalon scrub-hairstreak (Strymon avalona), and gray hairstreak (S. melinus). Flowering plants of Eriogonum are infrequently visited by the sooty hairstreak (Satyrium fulginosum), the flowers being a source of nectar for adults . According to Opler, several additional species and subspecies of these butterflies remain to be described.[2]

Physical Description

Species Eriogonum fasciculatum

Shrubs or subshrubs , compact to spreading or rounded and more or less erect , occasionally decumbent , infrequently scapose , (1-) 2-15 × 2-25(-30) dm, tomentose to canescent , floccose , or glabrous . Stems sprawling or spreading to erect, often with persistent leaf bases , up to 1/ 2 or more height of plant; caudex stems absent or matted to spreading; aerial flowering stems erect to spreading, slender, solid, not fistulose, 0.3-2.5(-3) dm, tomentose, canescent, or glabrous. Leaves cauline, 1 per node or fasciculate; petiole 0.1-0.3 cm, canescent; blade linear to linear-oblanceolate or oblanceolate , 0.6-1.5(-1.8) × 0.05-0.4(-0.6) cm, white-tomentose or canescent to subglabrous abaxially, tomentose or canescent and grayish, subglabrous, or glabrous and green adaxially, margins often revolute . Inflorescences cymose , infrequently cymose-umbellate or capitate, compact to open, occasionally flat-topped, 0.2-20 × 0.2-15 cm; branches dichotomous, infrequently absent, tomentose to canescent or glabrous; bracts usually 3, scalelike, triangular, and 1-3 mm, or leaflike, linear to oblanceolate, and 3-10 × 1-3 mm. Peduncles absent. Involucres (1-) 3-8 per cluster , turbinate to campanulate , 2-4 × 1.5-3 mm, canescent, pubescent , glabrous, or subglabrous; teeth 5, erect, 0.3-1.2 mm. Flowers 2.5-3 mm; perianth white to pinkish, glabrous or pubescent; tepals connate proximal 1/ 4, monomorphic , usually elliptic to obovate ; stamens exserted, 2.5-5 mm; filaments subglabrous or pubescent proximally. Achenes light brown to brown, 1.8-2.5 mm, glabrous. [source]

Eriogonum fasciculatum is a complex , polyploid series of variants that are generally distinct but often difficult to distinguish morphologically. Variety emphereium Reveal is confined to central Baja California, Mexico. The introduction of Eriogonum fasciculatum as a decorative roadside plant by the California Department of Transportation is resulting in hybrid populations involving E. cinereum. The aggressively weedy and (for Arizona) exotic variety foliosum is rapidly invading the native habitat of var. polifolium. Members of E. fasciculatum are food plants for several butterflies, notably the Bernardino dotted-blue (Euphilotes bernardino), lupine blue (Plebeius lupini), Mormon metalmark (Apodemia mormo), and Behr's metalmark (A. virgulti). Probably the butterfly most commonly seen with the species is the nut-brown hairstreak (Satyrium saepium), which frequents plants in full flower. Eriogonum fasciculatum is also the most important native source of honey in California. [source]

Habit: Subshrub , ShrubGrowth Form: ColonizingShape and Orientation: Rounded

Flowers: Bloom Period: Early Summer • Flower Color: Yellow • Flower Conspicuous: Yes

Seeds: Seed per Pound: 325000 • Seed Spread Rate: Slow • Seedling Vigor: Medium • Fruit/Seed Abundance: Low • Fruit/Seed Color: Brown • Fruit/Seed Conspicuous: Yes • Cold Stratification Required: Yes

Foliage: Foliage Color: White-Gray • Foliage Porosity Summer: Moderate • Foliage Porosity Winter: Moderate • Foliage Texture: CoarseFall Conspicuous: Yes • Leaf Retention: No


Active Growth Period: Spring and Summer • Growth Rate: Slow • Mature Height (feet): 2.0 • Maximum Height at 20 Years (feet): 2 • Size: 18-24" tall. • Vegetative Spread Rate: None • Lifespan: Lifespan


Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,765 meters (0 to 9,072 feet).[3]


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Duration: PerennialCoppice Potential: No • Progagated by Bulbs: No • Propagated by Bare Root: Yes • Propagated by Container: Yes • Propagated by Corms: No • Propagated by Cuttings: No • Propagated by Seed: Yes • Propagated by Sod: No • Propagated by Sprigs: No • Propagated by Tubers: No • Fruit/Seed Period Begin: Summer • Fruit/Seed Period End: FallFruit/Seed Persistence: Yes


Culture: Space 15-18" apart.

Soil: Adapted to Medium Textured: Adapted to Medium Textured Soils • Adapted to Coarse Textured Soils: No • Anaerobic Tolerance: None • Salinity Tolerance: High • CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium • Minimum pH: 6.0 • Maximum pH: 9.0 • Fertility Requirement: Low

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full Sun . • Shade Tolerance: Intolerant

Moisture: Drought Tolerance: High • Minimum Precipitation: 10 • Maximum Precipitation: 18 • Moisture Use: Low

Temperature: Minimum Temperature (F): 7 • Minimum Frost Free Days: 140


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Publishing author : Benth. Publication : Trans. Linn. Soc. London 17: 411. 1836

Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Eriogonum

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 534 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus. Here are just 100 of them:

E. abertianum (Abert Buckwheat) · E. abertianum var. abertianum (Abert's Buckwheat) · E. abertianum var. cyclosepalum (Abert's Buckwheat) · E. acaule (Pointed Eriogonum) · E. alatum (Wind Wildbuckwheat) · E. alatum var. alatum (Winged Wild Buckwheat) · E. alatum var. glabriusculum (Winged Buckwheat) · E. alatum var. mogollense (Winged Buckwheat) · E. aliquantum (Cimarron Buckwheat) · E. allenii (Shalebarren Buckwheat) · E. alpinum (Trinity Buckwheat) · E. ammophilum (Ibex Buckwheat) · E. ampullaceum (Mono Buckwheat) · E. androsaceum (Rockjasmine Buckwheat) · E. anemophilum (West Humboldt Buckwheat) · E. angulosum (Angle-Stemmed Wild-Buckwheat) · E. annuum (Annual Buckwheat) · E. apiculatum (San Jacinto Buckwheat) · E. apricum (Ione Buckwheat) · E. apricum var. apricum (Ione Buckwheat) · E. apricum var. prostratum (Irish Hill Buckwheat) · E. arborescens (Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat) · E. arcuatum var. arcuatum (Baker's Wild Buckwheat) · E. aretioides (Red Canyon Buckwheat) · E. argillosum (Clay Buckwheat) · E. argophyllum (Ruby Valley Buckwheat) · E. arizonicum (Arizona Buckwheat) · E. artificis (Kaye's Wild Buckwheat) · E. atrorubens (Buckwheat) · E. atrorubens atrorubens (Buckwheat) · E. baileyi (Bailey Buckwheat) · E. baileyi var. baileyi (Bailey's Buckwheat) · E. baileyi var. praebens (Bailey's Buckwheat) · E. batemanii (Bateman Buckwheat) · E. beatleyae (Beatley Buckwheat) · E. bicolor (Pretty Buckwheat) · E. bifurcatum (Forked Buckwheat) · E. blissianum (Bliss' Buckwheat) · E. brachyanthum (Shortflower Buckwheat) · E. brachypodum (Parry's Buckwheat) · E. brandegeei (Brandegee Wild Buckwheat) · E. breedlovei (Pilute Buckwheat) · E. breedlovei var. breedlovei (Piute Buckwheat) · E. breedlovei var. shevockii (Needle's Buckwheat) · E. brevicaule (Short-Stemmed Wild-Buckwheat) · E. brevicaule var. bannockense (Bannock Wild Buckwheat) · E. brevicaule var. brevicaule (Shortstem Buckwheat) · E. brevicaule var. cottamii (Cottam's Buckwheat) · E. brevicaule var. laxifolium (Goldenball Eriogonum) · E. brevicaule var. micranthum (Shortstem Buckwheat) · E. butterworthianum (Butterworth's Buckwheat) · E. caespitosum (Matted Buckwheat) · E. caespitosum var. sublineare (Matted Wild Buckwheat) · E. capillare (San Carlos Buckwheat) · E. capistratum (Hidden Buckwheat) · E. capistratum var. capistratum (Hidden Buckwheat) · E. capistratum var. muhlickii (Muhlick's Buckwheat) · E. capistratum var. welshii (Welsh's Buckwheat) · E. cernuum (Nodding Buckwheat) · E. cernuum var. cernum (Nodding Wild Buckwheat) · E. cernuum var. cernuum (Nodding Buckwheat) · E. cernuum var. purpurascens (Nodding Wild Buckwheat) · E. cernuum var. viminale (Nodding Buckwheat) · E. cespitosum (Matted Buckwheat) · E. chrysops (Bitterroot Buckwheat) · E. cinereum (Coastal Buckwheat) · E. cithariforme (Cithara Buckwheat) · E. cithariforme var. agninum (Cithara Buckwheat) · E. cithariforme var. cithariforme (Cithara Buckwheat) · E. clavatum (Hoover's Desert Trumpet) · E. clavellatum (Clay-Loving Wild-Buckwheat) · E. codium (Basalt Desert Buckwheat) · E. collinum (Hill Buckwheat) · E. coloradense (Colorado Buckwheat) · E. compositum (Arrowleaf Buckwheat) · E. compositum var. compositum (Arrowleaf Buckwheat) · E. compositum var. lancifolium (Arrowleaf Buckwheat) · E. compositum var. leianthum (Arrowleaf Buckwheat) · E. compositum var. pilicaulis (Arrowleaf Wild Buckwheat) · E. concinnum (Darin Buckwheat) · E. congdonii (Congdon Buckwheat) · E. contiguum (Ash Meadows Buckwheat) · E. contortum (Grand Buckwheat) · E. correllii (Correll's Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum (Corymbed Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. aureum (Crispleaf Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. corymbosum (Crispleaf Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. glutinosum (Crispleaf Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. heilii (Crisp-Leaf Wild Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. nilesii (Crisp-Leaf Wild Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. orbiculatum (Crispleaf Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. revealianum (Crispleaf Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. thompsonae (Crisp-Leaf Wild Buckwheat) · E. corymbosum var. velutinum (Crispleaf Buckwheat) · E. covilleanum (Coville's Buckwheat) · E. crocatum (Conejo Buckwheat) · E. cronquistii (Bull Mountain Buckwheat) · E. crosbyae (Crosby's Buckwheat) · E. cusickii (Cusick's Buckwheat) · E. darrovii (Carrot Buckwheat)

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 19, 2007:



  1. Anjen Li, Bojian Bao, Alisa E. Grabovskaya-Borodina, Suk-pyo Hong, John McNeill, Sergei L. Mosyakin, Hideaki Ohba & Chong-wook Park "Polygonaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 277. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. James L. Reveal "Eriogonum". in Flora of North America Vol. 5. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. Mean = 750.880 meters (2,463.517 feet), Standard Deviation = 598.080 based on 367 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-01-30