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Eriogonum

Wild Buckwheat
Polygonaceae
Perennials, Shrubs

Individual blossoms are tiny but grow in long-stemmed or branched clusters—usually domed, flattish, or ball-like. Flowers age to an attractive tan or reddish brown and persist for a long time; good in dried arrangements. Flowers attract butterflies; birds enjoy the seeds. Grow best in well-drained, loose, gravelly soil. Useful for covering dry banks, massing among rocks; smaller forms make good specimens in rock gardens.

Eriogonum arborescens
Eriogonum arborescens

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Eriogonum arborescens

Native to Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Anacapa islands, Southern California. Grows 3–4 ft. (sometimes 8 ft.) high, spreading to 4–5 ft. or more. Trunk and branches with shredding gray to reddish bark make attractive open pattern. Rather narrow, 1/2–1 1/2 -in.-long, gray-green leaves cluster at ends of branches. Long-stalked, flat clusters of pale pink to rose flowers, late spring through summer.

Eriogonum cinereum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Eriogonum cinereum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Eriogonum cinereum

Native to coastal bluffs and canyons of Southern California. Grows to 2–5 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, with ash-colored, 1-in. leaves and pale pink flowers in ball-shaped clusters in summer. Best planted in groups.

Eriogonum crocatum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Eriogonum crocatum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Eriogonum crocatum

Native to Southern California. Low, compact plant to 1 1/2 ft. high, 2 ft. wide. Stems and roundish, 1-in.-long leaves are covered with white wool. Sulfur yellow flowers in broad, flattish clusters, early spring to late summer.

Eriogonum fasciculatum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Eriogonum fasciculatum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Eriogonum fasciculatum

Native to the foothills of California (from Santa Clara to San Diego) and to the desert mountain slopes of Southern California. Forms a clump 1–3 ft. high, spreading to 4 ft. Leaves are narrow, 1/2–3/4 in. long; may be dark green above, white and woolly beneath, or gray and hairy. White or pinkish flowers in headlike clusters, late spring to early fall. Good for erosion control. ‘Theodore Payne’ is lower growing, makes an attractive green groundcover, as does ‘Warriner Lytle’.

Eriogonum fasciculatum polifolium

Native to inland mountains and deserts of California into western Utah, Arizona, and northwest Mexico. Differs from the species only in minor botanical details.

Eriogonum giganteum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Eriogonum giganteum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Eriogonum giganteum

Native to Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands, Southern California. Grows to above 6 ft. tall, branches freely; produces umbels of white flowers that turn rust in autumn. Leaves are grayish-white, broadly oval, 1–2 1/2 in. long. Differs from Eriogonum arborescens in its more freely branching habit, leaf size, and longer period of bloom.

Eriogonum grande rubescens (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Eriogonum grande rubescens (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Eriogonum grande rubescens

Native to San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz Islands, Southern California. Woody stems at the base; branches tend to lie on the ground, spreading to 1–1 1/2 ft., with upright tips about 10–12 in. high. Gray-green, oval leaves 1–3 1/2 in. long. Branch tips and sturdy upright branchlets are topped by headlike clusters of rosy red flowers in summer.

Eriogonum umbellatum

Native to the mountains of the western United States. Plants grow to the timberline and above. Low, broad mats of woody stems set with 1-in. leaves that are green above, white and felted beneath. In late spring or early summer, 4–12-in. stalks carry clusters of tiny yellow flowers that age to rust.

Eriogonum wrightii

Widely distributed species native from eastern and Southern California to western Texas and northern Mexico. Selections from higher elevations and the northern part of the range take more cold. Wandlike stems form a mound 1 1/2 ft. high by 2 ft. wide. Silvery green, felted leaves, 1/2 in. long and 1/4 in. wide, narrow to a point. Tiny white or pinkish flowers appear in clusters along stalks from midsummer through fall.

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