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Eriogonum umbellatum (Sulphur-flower buckwheat)
Beckers, Eric

Eriogonum umbellatum

Eriogonum umbellatum Torr.

Sulphur-flower Buckwheat, Sulphur-flower Wild Buckwheat, Sulphur Buckwheat, Sulphur-flower

Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

This is an exceedingly variable species with many different varieties & subspecies. Plant height varies from 3 in. to 3 ft., or more, but all plants make loose mats of leaves, often green above and gray-woolly beneath. Leaves at base, and on long, erect stalks bloom tiny, yellow or cream flowers in balls at ends of branches of an umbel-like cluster. Flower clusters occur on 6-9 in. stems. The cream to sulfur-yellow, tubular flowers fade to orange or red.

Sulphur Buckwheat is highly variable, and this adds to the difficulties of identification in a complex group of similar western species.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Usually matted or spreading, sometimes erect. Stems up to about 6 feet long, often much shorter.
Leaf: Gray-Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NM , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , SK
Native Distribution: Rocky Mts. (typical form) & other cold, western mt. sites
Native Habitat: Dry, mt. slopes & ridges

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Because the species is so variable, it is especially important to choose material from a habitat that matches your site.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Lupine Blue
(Plebejus lupini)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Propagate only by seed as it is nearly impossible to transplant or divide the long taproots of mature plants. Plant seed thickly as germination is low.
Seed Collection: The three-sided achene can be hand-stripped from the plant.
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary, but a 3-month stratification may improve germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Eriogonum umbellatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Eriogonum umbellatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Eriogonum umbellatum


Record Modified: 2023-02-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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