August 12, 2014

Dunes in Bloom: California Buckwheat

DSC06614 700x300Come visit the Guadalupe Native Garden to see this month's Dunes in Bloom, California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) a member of the Buckwheat Family,Polygonaceae.

Buckwheat is a shrub of various sizes, ranging from about a foot tall to over 3 feet, and with the capability of growing wider than that.  The main body of the plant is green and brown.  The flowers on the shrub can be white or pink, and become brown once they dry out and begin seeding.  The plant flowers from May to October depending on various local environmental factors, such as rainfall.  The plant is an evergreen, so it does not die back all the way in the winter.

California Buckwheat is fairly common in coastal slopes and canyons from San Diego County north to Mendocino County.  It is also found inland, in chaparral or scrub habitats, all the way east to Arizona.  It can be found in many dry areas on our Central Coast, such as Cerro Alto and Montaña de Oro.

Many Native tribes have used California Buckwheat medicinally.  The Zuni people have been said to use the root of the plant to heal cuts and other wounds.  The Cahuilla tribe drank a tea made from the leaves of the plant to help with headaches.  A tea has also been made from the roots of the plant to help with colds and sore throats.  A relative of our California Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, is a grain cultivated worldwide to make a variety of products, like pancake mix.

As a garden plant, California Buckwheat grows best in full sun.  It doesn’t require too much water or management.  It also attracts a wide variety of insect species, likely most appealing of which would be varieties of Butterflies.


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