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Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat
Eriogonum arborescens
About Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens) Nurseries Show All Photos Eriogonum arborescens is a species of wild buckwheat known by the common name Santa Cruz Island buckwheat. This shrub is endemic to the Channel Islands of California. It may be anywhere from one half to two meters in height and sprawl from one half to three meters in diameter across the ground. The stems bear narrow, fuzzy green leaves at the ends of the branches, each 2 to 5 centimeters long and sometimes with edges rolled under. The bush erects clusters of densely clustered, frilly flowers on nearly naked peduncles. Each flower is only a few millimeters wide, very light pink in color, with nine protruding stamens. The flowers turn brown as they age. The bark is red and ribbony. This is an uncommon plant in its native range on a few of the Channel Islands. It has also been planted as highway landscaping and in gardens on mainland California, where the shrub is not native.

Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat is easy to grow. Plant on dry, well drained shallow slopes or flats, and surround with plenty of mulch or rocks. It's extremely drought tolerant, and after the first two years should need no supplemental summer water. Even when drought-stressed in the summer, the plant looks beautiful, turning a beautiful silvery green color as the soil dries out.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.6 - 7 ft (0.49 - 2.1 m)

Max. Width
2 - 9 ft (0.6 - 2.7 m)

Mounding, Spreading


Growth Rate
Moderate, Slow


Linear, 2-5 cm, grey-green, hairy, edges curled under

Flower Color
Brown, Pink, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Fall

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes, bluffs, and canyons on Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Rosa Islands, as part of the island form of chaparral and coastal sage scrub. The predominant atmospheric conditions are strongly marine influenced.


Elevation ?
0' - 1688'

Annual Precip. ?
11.8" - 23.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 0.40"

Coldest Month ?
47.4° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
62.3° F - 71.1° F

Humidity ?
1.28 vpd - 15.81 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerant of sand and clay

Soil Texture
Loamy Sand, Sand, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 10° F

Sunset Zones ?
5, 7, 8*, 9*, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Island companion plants include Santa Cruz Island Ironwood, Island Live Oak, Island Bristleweed, Channel Island Tree Poppy and Giant Coreopsis. Other chaparral and sage scrub companions include California Encelia, California Sagebrush, Bladderpod, and Ceanothus spp.

Wildlife Attracted
Attracts various birds and insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Usually not needed

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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