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Click to read about Eriogonums.

This is a native species.

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii 
Eriogonum jamesii (James' Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Meadows, shrublands, woodlands.  Summer, fall.
Above and left: Mesa Verde National Park, August 25, 2016 and July 25, 2009.

Eriogonum jamesii and Eriogonum arcuatum can be difficult to tell apart, and, in fact, James Reveal, Eriogonum expert, indicates in his treatment of Eriogonum in the Flora of North America, "Eriogonum arcuatum has long been included under E. jamesii". In his key to Eriogonum (in the FNA and in the Flora of the Four Corners Region), Reveal gives them separate species status. 

Stanley Welsh, Utah flora expert and one time Professor to Reveal, disagrees with Reveal and accepts just one species, E. jamesii: "The concept of E. jamesii is restricted [in FNA] to those [plants] with white to cream colored flowers. Use of flower color as the basis for segregation seems to this writer to be superfluous, and [therefore I maintain] the traditional application of the name E. jamesii".

The final volume of Intermountain Flora (2012 by Holmgren, Holmgren, and Reveal) indicates that in the Intermountain Region, there is just E. arcuatum. As the map below indicates, E. jamesii is almost exclusively found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.

E. jamesii and E. arcuatum are nearly identical in almost all of their characteristics and measurements; they are best separated, according to Reveal, by their flower color (yellow for E. arcuatum and white to cream for E. jamesii) and by their inflorescences (compound umbellate for E. jamesii and capitate of umbellate for E. arcuatum). In addition, although the upper side of the leaves of both species may be densely woolly-hairy, the upper side of E. jamesii leaves can be "thinly hairy or even glabrous". 

Note that the E. jamesii plants shown on this page are growing in a warm, relatively moist environment and the E. arcuatum plant is growing in a hot, dry environment. Thus there is a considerable difference in their appearance. In similar environments, the two plants would look very similar.

The second photograph above shows the lovely pinks and reds that color the petals late in the flowering season.

Bentham named this species in 1856 from a specimen collected by Edwin James in the Rockies near the Platte in 1820. James was a highly respected long-time plant collector. Click for more biographical information about James.

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii (James' Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Meadows, shrublands, woodlands.  Summer, fall.
Mesa Verde National Park, August 25, 2016.

As indicated above, a characteristic of E. jamesii that helps separate it from other Eriogonums is its cream, instead of bright yellow flower color.

Other key characteristics of E. jamesii: The flowers are stipitate (they have a short stipe, a stem), connecting them to the main stem. You can see these stipes in the middle photograph at left where you can also see another distinguishing characteristic: the flower petals are hairy. The red-tips in the middle photograph belong to leaf-like bracts which subtend the flower heads.

As shown in the photograph at lower left, the flowers of E. jamesii are in a compound umbel, i.e., the flowering stem splits (the lower two arrows) and then splits again (the upper two arrows).

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii

Eriogonum jamesii (James' Buckwheat)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Meadows, shrublands, woodlands.  Summer, fall.
Petroglyph Point Tail, Mesa Verde National Park, July 21, 2016.

Leaves vary in their shade of green and in their shape, but they are generally narrowly elliptical. Leaves are somewhat hairy and green on their upper side and densely hairy and silvery white below.

First basal leaves are often a bit smaller, shorter petioled, and more withered at flowering time than later basal leaves.

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 jamesii