CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum

Walter Wisura

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum

Common Names: 
Cushenberry buckwheat, Cushenbury buckwheat, wild buckwheat
(Small) Jepson
Growth Habit: 
Subshrub, Forb/herb
CPC Number: 


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Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineumenlarge
Photographer: Walter Wisura
Image Owner: Rancho Santa Ana

Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineumenlarge
Photographer: Walter Wisura
Image Owner: Rancho Santa Ana

Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Valerie Soza contributed to this Plant Profile.

Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum

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.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum
  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).

  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 Mountain southeast to Rattlesnake Canyon near Mineral Mountain.

Number Left
  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).


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  California S1.1 5  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

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

  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 dumping and haul road construction. Mining activities also fragment habitat, alter hydrology, and increase airborne particulates that may depress pollinator success (USFWS 1994). These airborne particulates from existing mine operations have created a hard "cemented" top layer over adjacent slopes, inhibiting water and light penetration, reproduction, seed germination, etc. Many of the populations of Cushenbury buckwheat are located within the San Bernardino National Forest and thus threatened by various recreational activities as well: off-highway vehicle use, ski area expansions, energy development projects, and recreational and urban development near the community of Big Bear Valley and City (USFWS 1994, 1997).

Current Research Summary
  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).

Current Management Summary
  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).

Research Management Needs
  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).

Ex Situ Needs


Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Books (Edited Volumes)

James C. Hickman, Editor. 1993 The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1400p.

Conference Proceedings

Gonella, M.P.; Neel, M.C. Characterizing rare plant habitat for restoration in the San Bernardino National Forest. Proceedings: wildland shrub and arid land restoration symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-315. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station; October 19-21; Las Vegas, NV. 1993.

Mistretta, O.; White, S.D. Introducing Two Federally Listed Carbonate-Endemic Plants onto a Disturbed Site in the San Bernardino Mountains, California. Southwestern rare and endangered plants: proceedings of the third conference; September 25-28; Flagstaff, AZ. In: Maschinski, Joyce; Holter, Louella, editors. 2000. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Fort Collins, CO (Proceedings RMRS-P-23). p 20-26.

Electronic Sources

(2000). CalFlora: on California plants for education, research and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: The CalFlora Database [a non-profit organization]. http://www.calflora.org/.. Accessed: 2002.

CNDDB. (2000). Calfornia Natural Diversity Data Base (CNDDB). Version 2.1.2. California Natural Diversity Database. Accessed: California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento.

ESIS. (1998). Endangered Species System (ESIS): Fish and Wildlife Exchange. [Web site;] Virginia Tech. http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/esis/. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Archibald, J.K.; Wolf, P.G.; Tepedino, V.J. 2001. Genetic relationships and population structure of the endangered Steamboat buckwheat, Eriogonum ovalifolium var. williamsiae (Polygonaceae). American Journal of Botany. 88, 4: 608-615.

Day, T.A.; Wright, R.G. 1989. Positive Plant Spatial Association with Eriogonum ovalifolium in Primary Succession on Cinder Cones: Seed-Trapping Nurse Plants. Vegetatation. 80, 1: 37-45.

Neel, M.C.; Ellstrand, N.C. Accepted. Conservation of Genetic Diversity in the endangered plant Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum. Conservation Genetics.

Neel, M.C.; Ross-Ibarra, J.; Ellstrand, N.C. 2001. Implications of Mating Patterns for Conservation of the Endangered Plant Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum (Polygonaceae). American Journal of Botany. 88, 7: 1214-1222.

Richardson, C.A.; Henderson, D.M. 1999. Classification and ordination of the alpine plant communities of Railroad Ridge, White Cloud Peaks, Idaho. Great Basin Naturalist. 59, 1: 63-78.

USFWS. 1976. Proposed Endangered Status for 1700 U.S. Plants. Federal Register. 41: 24523-24572.

USFWS. 1992. Listing Proposals. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 17, 1-2: 9-10.

USFWS. 1994. Five plants from the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California determined to be threatened or endangered. Federal Register. 59, 163: 43652-43664.

USFWS. 2002. Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Five Carbonate Plants From the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Federal Register. 67, 29: 6578-6612.


Mistretta, O. 1994. Final Report on Horticultural Studies of Parish's daisy (Erigeron parishii) and Cushenbury buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum). Conducted by Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden for Pleuss-Staufer (California) Inc. p.26 + appendices.

Stephenson, John R.; Calcarone, Gena M. 1999. Southern California Mountains and Foothills Assessment: Habitat and Species Conservation Issues. Chapter 5 - Potentially Vulnerable Species: Plants. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. p.402. General Technical report PSW-GTR-172.

USFWS. 1997. San Bernardino Mountains Carbonate Plants Draft Recovery Plan. Portland, Oregon: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p.51.


Gonella, Michael Paul. 1994. Characterization of Rare Plant Habitat for Restoration in the San Bernardino National Forest. [M.S. Thesis]: San Jose State University. 151p.

  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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