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Eriogonum compositum 5077.JPG
Eriogonum compositum
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Subfamily: Eriogonoideae
Genus: Eriogonum

Over 250, see text

Eriogonum is the scientific name for a genus of flowering plants in the family Polygonaceae. The genus is found in North America and is known as wild buckwheat. This is a highly species-rich genus, and indications are that active speciation is continuing. It includes some common wildflowers such as the California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum).

The genus derived its name from the Greek word erion meaning 'wool' and gonu meaning 'knee or joint'. The author of the genus, Michaux, explained the name as describing the first named species of the genus (E. tomentosum) as a wooly plant with sharply bent stems ("planta lanata, geniculata").[1] Despite sharing the common name "buckwheat", eriogonum is part of a different genus than the cultivated European buckwheat and than other plant species also called wild buckwheat.

It came into the news in 2005 when the Mount Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum, believed to be extinct) was rediscovered.[2]

Importance for Lepidoptera[edit]

Eriogonum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). An example of a butterfly that uses this plant for food is the Lycaena heteronea. Several of these are monophagous, meaning their caterpillars only feed on this genus, sometimes just on a single taxon of Eriogonum. Wild buckwheat flowers are also an important source of food for these and other Lepidoptera. In some cases, the relationship is so close that Eriogonum and dependent Lepidoptera are in danger of coextinction.

Monophagous Lepidoptera on wild buckwheat include:


Some varieties of eriogonum, such as California buckwheat were and still are used as medicinal and food crops by Native American tribes.[3][4]

Selected species[edit]

Eriogonum wrightii var. subscaposum


  1. ^ André Michaux. Flora boreali americana. 1803. volume 1. page 247.[1]
  2. ^ "05.24.2005 – Dainty pink Mt. Diablo buckwheat rediscovered". Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Grady, B. R. and J. L. Reveal. (2011). New combinations and a new species of Eriogonum (Polygonaceae: Eriogonoideae) from the Great Basin Desert, United States. Phytotaxa 24 33–38.

External links[edit]