CPC Plant Profile: Cushenbury Buckwheat
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Plant Profile

Cushenbury Buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum)

This picture is a closeup of the flower heads combined with a site distance shot. Photo Credit: Walter Wisura
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Polygonaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 156820
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/06/1993

Cushenbury buckwheat is a low, densely-matted perennial herb endemic to carbonate deposits on the north side (desert side) of the San Bernardino Mountains (Transverse Ranges) of San Bernardino County, California. Cushenbury buckwheat is a "cushion" plant reaching 10-20 inches (2.5 - 5 dm) in diameter, with round to ovate, silvery white leaves and dense inflorescences of creamy-white flowers, turning red in age, that bloom May through August. It is a federally-endangered plant, and one of five carbonate endemics within this range that are endangered and/or threatened primarily by limestone mining in this region. Most of the carbonate deposits in the San Bernardino Mountains are within active limestone mining claims or mining claims that are being maintained for their potential mineral resources.

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  • 10/05/2020
  • Demographic Research

Research has been conducted into habitat characteristics for this species on the San Bernardino Mountains, in particular for restoration potential on the SBNF (Gonella and Neel 1993).

  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden holds 4 accessions of Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 13371 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 3 seed accessions of Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum from 3 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 39 maternal plants

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Restricted to a carbonate belt in the northeastern San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County, California. Approximately 29 occurrences are believed extant (with another 4 historical and 1 of unknown status) within an area of approximately 240 square kilometers. Population size was estimated to be about 13,000 plants. Habitat destruction and degradation associated with limestone mining is the major threat to this taxon. Lesser threats include off-highway vehicle use, trash dumping, recreational use (shooting, camping, horseback riding), recreational and urban development, and potential power line and hydroelectric development projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2002) has designated Critical Habitat and the U.S. Forest Service has developed the Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy (2003) with the aim of mitigating these threats.

Valerie Soza
  • 01/01/2010

Threats and disturbances to the natural habitat of carbonate endemic plants within this region is primarily associated with limestone mining and includes destruction of habitat by open or terraced mining techniques and quarries and associated overburden d

Valerie Soza
  • 01/01/2010

Cushenbury buckwheat is known from 20-160 occurrences, totaling ca. 10,000-13,000 individuals. (The number of occurrences varies depending on the source of information. The San Bernadino National Forest has more current, extensive data available on all known occurrences ~ 160).

Valerie Soza
  • 01/01/2010

Research has been conducted into habitat characteristics for this species on the San Bernardino Mountains, in particular for restoration potential on the SBNF (Gonella and Neel 1993).

Valerie Soza
  • 01/01/2010

The majority of carbonate deposits within the San Bernardino Mountains are owned by the USDA Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest, which has developed a forest management plan that aims to conserve some of the existing populations of the carbonate endemics by setting aside refugia. As part of this plan, the SBNF has supported ongoing surveys of carbonate habitat within the SBNF to expand knowledge of species distribution patterns and assist in identification of refugia potential (USFWS 1997).

Valerie Soza
  • 01/01/2010

Management needs that have been identified by the USFWS include protection of significant extant populations by developing a reserve system on federally owned land of occupied areas, buffer zones, and habitat connections; restoring habitat, reintroduction efforts and enhancing populations; monitoring populations; and conducting surveys and taxonomic assessments to locate new populations and resolve questions about the identity of several existing populations (USFWS 1997).


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Taxon Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum
Authority (Small) Jepson
Family Polygonaceae
CPC Number 1768
ITIS 528014
Common Names Cushenberry buckwheat | Cushenbury buckwheat | wild buckwheat
Associated Scientific Names Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum | Eriogonum ovalifolium ssp. vineum | Eriogonum ovalifolium subsp. vineum | Eriogonum vineum
Distribution Cushenbury buckwheat is distributed along the north side of the San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County, California, with a range of approximately 25 miles (40 km) from North Peak of White Mou
State Rank
State State Rank
California S1

Cushenbury buckwheat typically grows in open areas of low competition, primarily associated with pinyon-juniper woodlands with flannelbush, manzanita, or blackbush, between 4,600 and 7,900 feet (1,400-2,400 m) in elevation, and on moderate to steep rocky slopes (USFWS 1994, 1997).

Ecological Relationships

Little is known about pollination ecology, seed dispersal mechanisms, and seedbank dynamics of this species (USFWS 1997).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bee flies Bombyliidae Confirmed Pollinator Link
Frit flies Chloropidae Confirmed Pollinator Link
House flies and kin Muscidae Confirmed Pollinator Link
Tachinid flies Tachinidae Confirmed Pollinator Link
Root-maggot flies Anthomyiidae Confirmed Pollinator Link
Hymenoptera Confirmed Pollinator Link
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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