Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - California Buckwheat

Calabazilla

California Buckwheat

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):California Buckwheat
Scientific Name:Eriogonum fasciculatum
Family:Polygonaceae
Plant Type:Perennial
Size:2-4 feet
Habitat:Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, Desert Scrub
Blooms:January to December

California buckwheat is a ubiquitous member of the plant community known as the California chaparral. This low, evergreen shrub is seen covering our hillsides in its pale blooms for roughly half the year.

White to pale pink flowers develop in walnut-size balls at the ends of branching stems from April to November; once bloomed they remain on the plant in a drier, browner state. Often the flower heads cover the plant such that one barely notices the foliage, which bears a resemblance to chamise. Evergreen, narrow, leathery leaves, less than an inch long, are gathered in bunches along the stems which are up to 5 feet long. The species name fasciculatum means "bundles". You would be right to recognize the hairs on the leaves as being one of the characteristics of drought tolerant plants.

While the commonness of Buckwheat in our mountains may be a deterrent to choosing this plant for your garden, the abundance of long-blooming flowers, drought tolerance and its attractiveness to native bees and other insects would make it a nice addition to any landscape.

Another Buckwheat common to our mountains is Ashy Leaved Buckwheat. Leaves are different in appearance and color. The common name refers to the gray tinted leaves.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
Turkish Rugging Chorizanthe staticoides

Originally featured: August 2007
Last modified: May 14 2017 03:01:52.
References:
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves