CPC Plant Profile: Southern Mountain Buckwheat
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Plant Profile

Southern Mountain Buckwheat (Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum)

Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanumflower heads. Photo Credit: Chris Wagner
Description
  • Global Rank: T2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Polygonaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 131604
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 09/23/2021

Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum (Southern mountain buckwheat) is a woody-based cushion-like perennial in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) that flowers from July to September (USDA FS 2007a). This species is endemic to a unique habitat called pebble plains (also known as pavement plains). Pebble plain habitat is of limited distribution (occurring only in the San Bernardino Mountains) and supports a biologically rich but highly threatened plant community that consists of small cushion forming plants, minute annuals, grasses, and succulents. E. kennedyi var. austromontanum was listed as threatened by the federal government in 1998.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/10/2020
  • Genetic Research

Pollination and genetic studies for E. kennedyi var. austromontanum found that seed dispersal was limited to about 5 meters from a pebble plain edge; however, seed dispersal by animals was not examined in this study (USDA FS 2007a).

  • 09/10/2020
  • Reproductive Research

Pollination and genetic studies for E. kennedyi var. austromontanum found that seed dispersal was limited to about 5 meters from a pebble plain edge; however, seed dispersal by animals was not examined in this study (USDA FS 2007a).

  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden holds 3 accessions of Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 2970 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.

  • 08/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Based on an August 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden has collected 1 seed accessions of Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum from 1 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 150 maternal plants

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Restricted to a limited, fragile habitat in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California. There are fewer than ten populations known to be extant. Heavy off-road vehicle use is occurring and is a significant threat; the fragile pebble plain habitat is extremely suseptible to long-persisting or irreversible damage from these activities. Other threats include cattle trampling and recreational development. Extensive habitat was probably lost with the construction of a dam and reservoir in the late 1800s.

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Pebble plain habitat was likely destroyed due to the creation of Big Bear Lake in the 1880s. Residential and commercial development has also contributed to habitat loss. Other threats include existing roads and trails bisecting habitat, increased recrea

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

The California Natural Diversity database reports 22 occurrences of E. kennedyi var. austromontanum, 18 of these are on the San Bernardino National Forest (CNDDB 2007).

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Pollination and genetic studies for E. kennedyi var. austromontanum found that seed dispersal was limited to about 5 meters from a pebble plain edge; however, seed dispersal by animals was not examined in this study (USDA FS 2007a).

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Barriers and signs have been installed to direct recreation use, and eight road segments affecting pebble plains were decommissioned in 1999. The Pebble Plain Habitat Management Guide was recently revised (2002). Conservation practices that should be considered for this species include (USDA FS 2007a): Implement strategies within the Pebble Plain Habitat Management Guide to the greatest extent practicable. Utilize the habitat suitability criteria and detection protocols developed for this taxon and apply to surveys at the project level. Survey all new occurrences of E. kennedyi var. austromontanum and any occurrences that have not been visited in the past ten years, and record occurrence status, habitat condition, and threats. Collect a herbarium voucher specimen of E. kennedyi var. austromontanum to document new occurrences or to verify a historical occurrence if the occurrence is not known to have been documented in at least ten years prior.

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Survey all new occurrences of E. kennedyi var. austromontanum and any occurrences that have not been visited in the past ten years, and record occurrence status, habitat condition, and threats.

Naomi Fraga
  • 01/01/2010

Establish and maintain a genetically representative seed bank.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum
Authority Munz & I.M. Johnston
Family Polygonaceae
CPC Number 1743
ITIS 528003
USDA ERKEA2
Common Names Kennedy's Southern Mountain Buckwheat | Southern Mountain Buckwheat | Southern Mountain Wild-buckwheat
Associated Scientific Names Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum | Eriogonum kennedyi ssp. austromontanum | Eriogonum kennedyi subsp. austromontanum
Distribution Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum is known from approximately 910 acres (395 hectare) of pebble plain habitat in Big Bear and Holcomb valleys in the San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino Count
State Rank
State State Rank
California S2
Habitat

Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum occurs on pebble plains and is often associated with Arenaria ursina (also a pebble plain endemic). This species prefers rocky sites within pebble plains and occurs at elevations of 6,720-9,475 ft (2,050-2,890 m) (USDA FS 2007a, USFWS 1998). Pebble plains are open treeless areas that consist of clay soil (up to 53%) mixed with a pavement of quartzite pebbles and gravel that are pushed to the surface through frost action (USDA FS 2007a). The combination of clay soil, frost heaving, extreme temperature fluctuations, high light intensity, and desiccating winds is thought to prevent the establishment of tree species on pebble plains (USDA FS 2007b).

Ecological Relationships

Seeds are produced by self-pollination and insect-mediated outcrossing. Numerous types of wasps, bees, and flies have been recorded as pollinators on this plant species (OBrien 1979, USFWS YEAR). There are five varieties of E. kennedeyi, three of these occur in the San Bernardino Mountains. E. kennedyi var. kennedyiand E. kennedyi var. austrmontanum overlap in range and habitat and are difficult to distinguish (USDA FS 2007a). Leaf length is a character that has been used to distinguish these two taxa (Reveal 1998), however overlapping leaf lengths have been observed in specimens assigned to each variety (USDA FS 2007a).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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