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Sulfur Buckwheat

Scientific Name:

Eriogonum umbellatum


Herbaceous Plant


Dry, open, rocky sites at elevations of 700 to 12,000 feet with shallow, sandy soils, especially on sunny slopes and ridges


Western Canada south to California and east into Colorado and New Mexico


Secure (NatureServe)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Sulfur buckwheat is difficult to identify as it is highly variable with over 30 recognized varieties! Their branched woody stems can form low mats or shrubs to over 2 feet tall. Their small, bright yellow flowers are clustered together in large balls, or umbels, at the tips of the leafless stems. A whorl of leaflike bracts can be seen below their flowerhead. Sulfur buckwheat flowers often change color as they age, turning reddish, sometimes cream or purple. Their small, oval leaves are found at the base of the plant, they can have white wooly hairs on their underside.

Fast Facts:

  • Sulfur buckwheat is an important plant for a variety of native pollinators and a host plant for the larva of several species of butterflies including the lupine blue.

  • Tribes throughout western North America traditionally used different parts of the sulphur-flower buckwheat plant to treat a variety of ailments. The Paiute and Shoshone made a poultice of mashed leaves, and sometimes roots, to treat lameness or rheumatism, and took a hot decoction of roots for colds or stomachaches.

  • Sulfur buckwheat flowers between May and September.



Emma Wynn (research, content, and photo)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

April 27, 2021 at 8:13:59 PM

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