CPC Plant Profile: Colorado Wild Buckwheat
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Plant Profile

Colorado Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum coloradense)

Description
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Polygonaceae
  • State: CO
  • Nature Serve ID: 154087
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Eriogonum coloradense is a matted, densely caespitose herbaceous perennial with a thick central taproot and spreading branches borne from a subterranean woody caudex. Mats are typically 5 to 15 centimeters in diameter (Reveal 1969) but may get as large 60 centimeters in diameter (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2002). The branches may proliferate underground, giving the appearance of multiple individuals in some cases. Barrell (1969, p. 342) noted that what seemed to be four individual plants about two and a half inches high turned out to be just the top of an underground plant ten inches wide. The leaves are basal with lanceolate to oblanceolate blades, revolute (rolled under), 1 to 4 (and up to 5) centimeters long, and 3 to 6 (and up to 8) millimeters wide (Reveal 1969, Spackman et al. 1997). They are green and hairless (or become hairless) above but densely tomentose (covered in wooly hairs) below. The flowering stems are leafless, up to 6 centimeters long, and either hairless or densely lanate (Reveal 1969). The flowers are borne in heads containing three to four involucres. The perianth is composed of tepals that are oblong to ovate. Members of the genus Eriogonum, including E. coloradense, have 3-merous flowers with nine stamens (Zomlefer 1994). The flowers are generally white (Reveal 1969) but may also be rose-colored (Harrington 1954). The fruit is an achene, containing a single seed that readily dehisces when ripe and falls away from the flower (Reveal personal communication 2002). The achenes are brown and 2.5 to 3.5 millimeters long (Reveal 1969).

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Updates
  • 09/10/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seed collection and storage.

  • 09/10/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seed collection and storage.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to Colorado, there are approximately 20 known occurrences, the vast majority of which are imprecisely mapped and have not been observed for over twenty years.

Small, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Recreational uses are considered to be the primary threat to the species at this time (Anderson 2004, Rondeau et al. 2011). The species is also threatened by grazing and its secondary effects, right-of-way management, residential development and human pop

Small, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

There are 21 principal occurrences documented in the Colorado Natural Heritage Program database. Fifteen of the 21 occurrences have not been observed in over 20 years. Fifteen of the 21 occurrences are imprecisely mapped. The USFS Conservation Assessment documents 22 occurrences (Anderson 2004).

Small, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Unknown

Small, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

On the BLM Sensitive Species list. Most occurrences of Eriogonum coloradense are found on public land, where they are less likely to be impacted by some threats such as residential development. Of the 16 to 18 occurrences found on USDA Forest Service land, at least eight and possibly 12 are in either designated wilderness areas or in a research natural area. However, E. coloradense has no special status designation with the USDA Forest Service, so consideration with respect to management is not required for this species. Because 16 of the 22 known occurrences have not been revisited in over 20 years, the current status of most occurrences is uncertain and more current information is badly needed (Anderson 2004).

Small, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Reveal (personal communication 2002) suggests that the highest priority for research on Eriogonum coloradense is an investigation of its taxonomic status, since conservation priority might decrease if it turns out to be conspecific with E. lonchophyllum. However, even as a subspecies or variety, E. coloradense is a unique element of the flora of the southern Rocky Mountains and will probably still warrant conservation action after its taxonomic status is resolved (Anderson 2004). There are several priorities for inventory work. These include searching for the historic occurrences of Eriogonum coloradense that have not been reassessed in many years. Searching for new occurrences of Eriogonum coloradense is another priority. Areas between the known occurrences offer the highest probability of finding new populations (Anderson 2004). Assessing demographic status, identifying critical life history stages, and determining biological processes affecting these stages should be the primary focuses of studies intended to confer practical benefits to conservation efforts (Schemske et al. 1994). Studies of its floral biology, dispersal, germination requirements, and longevity would address some of these priorities. Identifying the pollinators for Eriogonum coloradense will help to identify appropriate conservation strategies, and will also contribute valuable scientific data on the floral biology of this species (Anderson 2004).

Small, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection and storage.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Eriogonum coloradense
Authority Small
Family Polygonaceae
CPC Number 6271
ITIS 21096
USDA ERCO11
Common Names Colorado Wild Buckwheat | Colorado buckwheat
Associated Scientific Names Eriogonum coloradense | Eriogonum multiceps subsp. coloradense
Distribution Endemic to Colorado. Estimated range is 9,318 square kilometers (3,598 square miles). Eriogonum coloradense is known from 22 occurrences in five counties (Chaffee, Gunnison, Park, Pitkin, and Saguache
State Rank
State State Rank
Colorado S2
Habitat

Eriogonum coloradense is unusual in that it has an extremely broad ecological range. It has been documented on every soil texture, slope, and aspect. It has been found on sedimentary, granitic, and volcanic substrates, with Artemisia species (sagebrush) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and also with alpine cushion plants. It is found on a variety of geomorphic landforms, usually on talus, fellfields, rock shoots, and ridges, but also on roadsides. Reveal (personal communication 2002) described the habitat as rocky talus on the margins of meadows, grassland communities, high elevation sagebrush, sometimes with montane or subalpine conifers, and on sandy to gravelly flats and slopes. The best information currently available on E. coloradense is from high elevation sites. All known occurrences are open and somewhat xeric (Anderson 2004). The elevation range of occurrences of Eriogonum coloradense documented thus far is 8,870 to 12,840 feet (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2002).

Ecological Relationships

Unknown

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Other
Self Only Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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