The Beautiful Buckwheat

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No plant typifies Griffith Park better than buckwheat. California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) is found throughout the Park year-round and shows itself proudly on slopes as a coastal scrub species.

Buckwheat blossoms and seeds are long-lasting, with coloration trending over the seasons starting with fresh, tiny, clustered flowers, some boasting pinkish pedals and anthers and others pure white. The flowers gradually dry to a sustained rusty brown with copious tiny seeds formed which eventually get dispersed, if not eaten first by seed-seeking native birds. Butterflies, particularly metalmarks, hairstreaks, and San Bernardino blues, evolved with buckwheat, and make it their host plant.

Buckwheat was an important curative plant often served up as tea for Native Americans for so many ailments, but none are FDA-approved. If you could somehow gather enough of the minuscule seeds and grind them, you may be able to make a tiny buckwheat pancake, but don’t count on it! Any local beekeeper will tell you that our native buckwheat is the ultimate nectar source for flavorful honey.

Take a close look and appreciate this bountiful species. If you need a plant that will thrive in your backyard that will attract birds and butterflies, consider California buckwheat or one of the cultivars available at native plant nurseries.

~ Gerry Hans

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