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California Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum
About California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) Nurseries Show All Photos Known by the common name California buckwheat. This common shrub is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, where it grows on scrubby slopes and in chaparral and dry washes in a number of habitats. It is variable in appearance, forming a patchy, compact bramble or a spreading bush approaching two meters in height and three across. The leaves grow in clusters at nodes along the branches and are leathery, woolly on the undersides, and rolled under along the edges. Flowers appear in dense, frilly clusters which may be anywhere from a few millimeters to 15 centimeters wide. Each individual flower is pink and white and only a few millimeters across. This plant is particularly attractive to honey bees and is a good source of nectar over many months in drier areas.

There are four recognized varieties of California Buckwheat: 1. Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum or Leafy California Buckwheat, a brighter green variety which grows primarily on the coast and western side of the coastal mountain ranges, and is often carried in nurseries, 2. Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium, a gray variety which grows primarily in the desert regions and through the coastal foothills, and is sometimes available in nurseries, 3. Eriogonum fasciculatum var. fasciculatum, or Coastal California Buckwheat, which grows most closely to the coast, and 4. Eriogonum fasciculatum var. flavoviride, or Sonoran Desert California Buckwheat, which grows primarily in the Sonoran Desert and desert mountains.

California Buckwheats are tough and easy to grow, even in very dry conditions. Plant in a well draining sunny site. It shouldn't need supplemental water after established, but it will tolerate occasional summer water better than most extremely drought tolerant California natives. Form is variable, ranging from often open and upright in the foothills, to often dense and mounding closer to the coast. It produces profuse pink to white and cream-colored flowers as early as March that dry to a pretty red rust color as the soil dries. It sheds its dried flowers and a significant portion of its small blade-like leaves each dry season, and is an important plant for creating natural mulch. California Buckwheat is a keystone species for sagebrush scrub ecosystems, and a great choice for wildlife and butterfly gardens. Low growing forms of both Leafy Green Buckwheat and Interior California Buckwheat can be found in nurseries to use as spreading ground covers. Eriogonum fasciculatum 'Theodore Payne' can grow low as just 1 foot with a spread of up to 8 feet.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 6.6 ft (0.3 - 2.0 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)

Rounded, Mounding, Spreading

Growth Rate
Fast, Slow



Flower Color
Yellow, Cream, Pink, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Fall

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes, often south facing as a common component of Coastal Sage Scrub. Inland it may be found in Valley Grassland. In high desert areas it occurs in Sagebrush Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. It sometimes occurs in low desert areas as part of Creosote Bush Scrub


Elevation ?
0' - 11630'

Annual Precip. ?
2.7" - 50.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.86"

Coldest Month ?
23.5° F - 61.4° F

Hottest Month ?
43.2° F - 88.8° F

Humidity ?
0.43 vpd - 42.79 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers loamy soils

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.5

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Companion Plants
Many companions including Brittlebush (Encelia species), Sagebrush (Artemisia species), Sage (Salvia species), Manzanita (Arctostaphylos species), Ceanothus species, Yucca species, Dudleya species, and cactus species

Wildlife Attracted
Bees, Butterflies

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Can handle hard pruning, taller varieties even into edged/hedged plantings.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Eastern Mojave Buckwheat, Flattop Buckwheat, Yellow Buckwheat

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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