Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum (Nutt.) Stokes


Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)




California Buckwheat       


Interior Flat-Topped Buckwheat  

                                         March Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Low spreading shrubs, the stems +/- decumbent, 6-12 dm. long, branched, leafy; branchlets pubescent, ending in leafless peduncles 1-2 dm. long, bearing +/- open cymose infl. with many capitate clusters at the tips; lvs. numerous, fascicled, oblong-linear to linear-oblanceolate, green, pubescent above, white-wooly beneath, 6-15 mm. long, strongly revolute; invols. prismatic, 3-4 mm. high, pubescent, with 5 short acute teeth; calyx white to pinkish, ca. 3 mm. long, pubescent, the outer segms. broadly elliptic, the inner obovate; fils. subglabrous basally; aks. lance-ovoid, shining, ca. 2 mm. long.  Very variable.


Habitat:  Common in interior cismontane slopes and mesas, below 3000 ft.; Coastal Sage Scrub, Chaparral; n. L. Calif. to Monterey Co.  March-Oct.


Name:  Greek, erion, wool, and gonu, joint or knee, the type of the genus E. tomentosum Michx., being hairy at the nodes.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 677).  See ssp. fasciculatum for meaning of this word.  Latin, foliosus, full of leaves.  (Jaeger 104).


General:  I do not know how prevalent var. foliolosum is.   E. fasciculatum is quite common but I have not had the opportunity to study the frequency of each variety. The varieties look very similar to the naked eye, the major difference in the two being that the upper surface of the leaves, outer surface of the calyx and the involucres are pubescent.  (my comments).       The Cahuilla, Indians of the Colorado Desert, the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains, found Eriogonum sp. especially abundant on foothill slopes, in dry sandy areas, and on alpine meadows.  A strong, black decoction made from the leaves was drunk as a cure for headaches and stomach disorders.  The white flowers were steeped to make an eyewash or a drink that was said to clean out the intestines.  Leaves growing near the root were used as a physic.  The oldest plants were said to be most efficacious as a medicine.  Edible shoots were available in the desert from February to May, while the seeds, also eaten, were gathered from June until September.   A tea was used for dull nagging pain in pregnancy, especially in the back and hips. (Bean and Saubel 72).          This subspecies is one of the important bee plants of the foothills, mesas and lower altitudes of the mountains of cismontane California from Monterey County to San Diego and adjacent Lower California.  (Abrams, Vol. II 49).       This herbs mild astringency makes it useful as a gargle for sore throats under any conditions.  The tea was also used for premenstrual water retention and the fluid retention that often occurs in the last month or two of pregnancy.  (Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West 19).      An important honey plant.  (Hickman, Ed. 872).        In the Southwestern United States, the larvae of the Mormon Metalmark butterfly, Apodemia mormo, feed on buckwheat plants. (No author, sbnature, A Journal of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.  Spring 2004/Vol. 2, No. 1, 6-8).


Text Ref:  Dale 157; Hickman, Ed. 872; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 685; Roberts 33.

Photo Ref:  Mar 3 85 # 14,15.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.

First Found:  March 1985.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 347.

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 10/18/04.


                                           March Photo