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See more Eriogonum   and  more  and  Eriogonum cernuum.

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium variety purpureum (Cushion Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Above: Lower Cross Canyon, Utah, May 17, 2015 and
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 11, 2011.
Left and immediately below:
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, June 6, 2005 and May 11, 2016.

These handsome white, one inch puff-balls are often tinged with pink or lavender --  especially as they age --  and they can form mounds a foot or more across. The one-third inch, oval, sage green leaves grow vertically and are easily recognized even when the flowers are not present. Leaves vary from oval to round to spatulate and are always quite hairy.

Eriogonum ovalifolium 

Altogether this is an unusual and easily remembered plant.  

The 2005 Flora of North America, v. 5, recognizes eleven varieties of Eriogonum ovalifolium; three of them occur in at least one of the Four Corners states.  The FNA indicates that "E. ovalifolium is a highly diverse and widespread complex of generally distinct but sometimes intergrading varieties".  E. ovalifolium occurs in all of the Four Corners states.

Thomas Nuttall named this plant in 1834 from a specimen collected by his friend, Nathaniel Wyeth, near the "source of the Missouri" in June, 1833.  "Ovalifolium" refers to the leaf shape.

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum ovalifolium variety purpureum (Cushion Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, June 6, 2005.

Eriogonum ovalifolium
Eriogonum ovalifolium variety purpureum (Cushion Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Sand dunes near the Hogback, New Mexico, April 24, 2007.

Even in bud, this plant is very attractive.

Eriogonum racemosum

Eriogonum racemosum

Eriogonum racemosum (Red Root Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Openings. Summer.
Sharkstooth Road, July 30, 2004 and Upper Sand Canyon Trail, April 30, 2016.

Red Root Buckwheat is common in low foothill and mountain dry meadows and sometimes numbers in the hundreds or thousands giving a white-to-pink tinge to the meadows. The long-lasting flowers are in elongated racemes atop a long-necked, leafless stem.

The plantís light green, basal, elliptical, nearly vertical leaves are commonly found without a flower stalk.

The Flora of North America notes that although Eriogonum racemosum is "highly variable" in a number of its characteristics ("stature, the presence of... bracts..., the size and shape of the leaves, and the length of the mature flowers"), none of these variable features is related to any geographical area and thus all of the plants are considered the same species. 

Eriogonum racemosum occurs in all of the Four Corners states.

Thomas Nuttall named this species in 1848 from a collection he made in his 1834-1837 trip across the continent.  "Racemosum" is from the Latin for "cluster" and is common botanical nomenclature for this flower arrangement, a "raceme".

Eriogonum racemosum

Eriogonum racemosum

Eriogonum racemosum (Red Root Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Openings. Summer.
Sharkstooth Road, July 30, 2004; Spruce Creek Trail, October 3, 2010; and Boggy Draw Trail, August 16, 2016.

Numerous, tight clusters of flowers make this plant easy to find even though it is quite slender. The photograph below shows the flowers' various stages of development from tight elliptical buds (upper left of photograph), to hanging bell-shaped tubular appearing nearly opened flowers, to fully opened flowers with distinct petals that reflex. 

                                         Eriogonum racemosum

Its fall colors are quite different from the flower colors but they are so vivid that once again the plant is easy to find.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Eriogonum ovalifolium 

Eriogonum ovalifolium†variety purpureum

Range map for E. ovalifolium var. purpureum  

Range map for Eriogonum racemosum