Eriogonum wrightii wrightii

Wright Buckwheat - Eriogonum w. wrightii
Scenic Trail 796 - Kingston Cemetery to Emory Pass
Black Range, New Mexico, USA

Wright Buckwheat, Eriogonum wrightii, stands out as a low mass of color.  That mass of white is made up of hundreds of small white flowers, which in themselves are beautiful but - when you are tired and sweat is running into your eyes - difficult to photograph.  It is the most common Buckwheat in the middle elevations of the Black Range and quite common along the lower and middle reaches of trails like Forest Service Trail 796, west of the Kingston Cemetery.

A description of the species is found at the Flora of North America site.  There are nine varieties of this species, found in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States and in northwestern Mexico.  The individuals found here are the nominate form Eriogonum wrightii wrightii.  E. w. subscaposum is a synonym (no longer used) of this subspecies. There is some evidence that the subspecies intergrade.  This species is sometimes called Bastardsage, Bastard Sage, Wild Buckwheat, Shrubby Buckwheat, and Wright's Bastardsage.

The subspecies found here was used by the Kayenta Navajo has an emetic.  Native tribes used other subspecies as a food source, generally the seeds were pounded into a mash to eat or mix with water for a beverage.

This species was first described by Torrey in 1856.  When looking at a botanical citation you sometimes see a citation like “Torr. ex Benth.” which is the case for this species.  This citation means that (for some reason) the original description by John Torrey did not meet appropriate publication guidelines and that George Bentham published the description later (while citing Torrey) in a form that did meet those guidelines.  Major contributors to the literature generally have their names abbreviated in a standard form.  Bentham, was an important English systematic botanist.  It is worth noting that our world of internet communication is not the first time that world-wide “collaboration” has occurred.  This species was named after Charles Wright, a world-wide botanical collector who collected plants in Texas between 1837 and 1852.


© Robert Barnes 2018