Flat-top Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
Before the Witch Fire in October of 2007, large areas of the San Dieguito River Park were blanketed in Flat-top Buckwheat, especially in the Lake Hodges vicinity. Fortunately, buckwheat is adept at re-sprouting after sustaining above-ground damage, so within a couple years these burned areas will have a healthy covering of this important coastal sage scrub plant again.
Flat-top Buckwheat produces masses of tiny white flowers in the spring and summer, which dry to a rusty red color in the fall as they die. During the flowering period, the nectar of the buckwheat is very attractive to many different kinds of native bees, wasps and flies of the coastal sage scrub, as well as to European Honey Bees. Predators of the nectar-lovers, like robber flies and assassin bugs can also be commonly found on or around buckwheat. Buckwheat is also commonly used as a nesting substrate by California Gnatcatchers, a federally threatened species.
Buckwheat is a good example of a typical Southern California drought-tolerant plant, with its tiny leaves which lose water less readily than large, flat leaves, and by its ability in dry times to lose its leaves entirely. Sometimes during extremely dry years, buckwheat may grow few to no new leaves in the spring, but usually winter rains bring on lush greenery and the beautiful white blossoms.
Photos and article by Robyn Waayers. Click here for more by Robyn. Click here for Nature Notebook.
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