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Cushenberry Buckwheat
(Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum )

Cushion Buckwheat; Photo Copyright Gladys Lucille Smith California Academy of Sciences
Photo Copyright Gladys Lucille Smith California Academy of Sciences

Description: A low perennial, growing from a woody base that forms compacts mounds (0.1-0.9m in diamter).  Leaves (5-15mm long) are basal and rounded to oval in shape.  Leaves are also white and felty in texture.  Inflorescence is a ball like flower cluster of white, cream, or light brown flowers on top of an unbranched, white-wooly stem (1-2dm high).  These flowers age to a reddish purple color. 

Distribution: Restricted to dry calcereous (generally limestone) slopes of the northern San Bernardino Mountains.  The range for cushenbury buckwheat extends from White Mountain southeast to Mineral Mountain on the north side of Rattlesnake Canyon.  An unconfirmed disjunct population has been recently reported on the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mtns.  If this population is truly cushenbury buckwheat, then it has probably been isolated from the main population since the pleistocene when more mesic conditions in the Mojave Desert would have created stepping stones for dispersal.

Habitat: Prefers stable carbonate slopes of limestone or dolomite with bedrock outcroppings.  Occurs most commonly in pinyon-juniper woodland, but can be found in joshua tree woodlands, mixed desert scrub, blackbrush scrub, and jeffery pine-western juniper woodland.  Cushenbury buckwheat can be found from 4500 to 7800 ft.

Flowering Period: May-June

Similar Plants: Southern mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum) is similar, but is found in different habitat and has narrower leaves and smaller heads.  Skree buckwheat (Eriogonum saxatile) also occurs in non-carbonate habitats and has a more open growth form and branched flower stems.

Status: Federal Endangered, California Native Plant Society List 1B

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Field Office: Barstow

Last updated: 08-05-2010