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Click to read about Eriogonum.

See more Eriogonum and  more  and  Eriogonum cernuum.

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum (Lance-leaf Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Foothills, montane. Shrublands, openings. Summer.
Above: Lone Mesa State Park, July 2, 2008 and July 25, 2011; Carpenter Natural Area, Cortez, May 22, 2013; and Knife Edge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, October 1, 2016.
Left: Knife Edge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, October 1, 2016.

Eriogonum lonchophyllum can be an abundant plant in its limited range in eastern Utah, northwestern New Mexico, and Colorado.  The plant can grow from 8-24 inches tall and to over 24 inches in diameter. Plants may be in small groupings scattered over a large area or they may be in masses to eight feet wide and long, the latter occurring because of what Eriogonum expert, James Reveal, calls "spreading caudex stems" (see middle red arrow).

Flowering stems are usually glabrous but they may be quite hairy as shown in the robust Mesa Verde species photographs on this page. Leaves may be primarily basal or along the lower or even nearly entire length of the stem. Flowers are clustered at the ends of the branching stems.  Basal leaves are often clustered, long, narrow, and ascending (nearly vertical). Leaf edges can be rolled under ("retrorse", see left red arrow) and scalloped (see right red arrow). Leaves may be relatively glabrous (top photograph on this page) to quite hairy (second from top photograph and second photograph at left, back of leaves). Leaves may be elliptic, lanceolate, or oblanceolate.

The plant is, thus, highly variable. James Reveal, states: "No member of the genus is more frustrating taxonomically than Eriogonum lonchophyllum. The variation within the species is obvious." (Quotation from one of Reveal's web pages on Eriogonum).

Photographs on this page show the wide variation in this species. In fact, the variation is so wide that I found it very difficult to identify the more robust Mesa Verde species shown on this page. No key that I worked through led to Eriogonum lonchophyllum, but eventually when I consulted Reveal's 1,200 page key to Eriogonum I found two Reveal photographs that look just like the third and fourth photographs above (minus the ruler!). I then also searched the SEINet database and found a specimen collected by Bassett Maguire in 1935 and authenticated by James Reveal and another specimen collected by Reveal himself in 2003, both from the same area on the Knife Edge Trail where I photographed. (Be sure to click the dried specimens to enlarge them so you can see that they are the same as the Mesa Verde plants shown on this web page.)

I finally felt confident that I had identified the species first brought to my attention by Helen and Wade Newman, who have created a great plant list for the Knife Edge Trail. Thanks Helen and Wade. 

 

In 1856 this plant was named Eriogonum microthecum variety fendlerianum by Bentham from a collection made by Fendler near Taos in 1847. John Torrey and Asa Gray renamed the plant Eriogonum lonchophyllum in 1870, and the plant has had numerous other names and has been repeatedly divided into numerous varieties and then been brought back into just a few varieties. Today there are from 2-5 varieties recognized.

"Lonchophyllum" is Latin for "lance-shaped leaves", although leaves may be oblanceolate, elliptic, narrowly elliptic, or linear.

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

Eriogonum lonchophyllum (Lance-leaf Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Foothills, montane. Shrublands, openings. Summer.
Lone Mesa State Park, July 2, 2008

Flowers can be in small, dainty clusters as shown below in the plants from Lone Mesa or they can be in massive showiness as in the photographs at left from Mesa Verde.

Notice the umbel (umbrella-like) spreading of the flowering branches.

Flower tepals fade to soft shades of pink.

Eriogonum lonchophyllum

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 lonchophyllum