Polygonaceae, Buckwheat Family
Southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, southeastern California, Arizona and northern Baja California, Mexico
Dry, rocky slopes
Living Desert Location:
Bighorn Sheep Exhibit, Ethnobotanic Garden
During the summer, butterflies flitter to flattop buckwheat for nectar.
Flattop buckwheat is a low-growing, evergreen, perennial shrub commonly found in arid habitats from Utah south to Baja California, and from California east to Arizona. It reaches a mere one and a half feet in height, but spreads to two feet wide or more. It has small, dark-green leaves with whitish undersides and gray stems. Flowers can be produced anytime of the year, but the predominant flower season is spring through summer. The white flowers are formed in ball-like clusters up to two inches wide. The easily-recognized flower clusters turn a brown color and remain on the plant long after flowering has ended.
Flattop buckwheat has many good qualities that make it an excellent plant for use in rock gardens, butterfly gardens, desert gardens, and native plant gardens. It is drought tolerant and survives on little water. It has a deep-green color that is often difficult to provide in native plant landscapes. Its relatively attractive flowers provide nectar for wildlife, especially butterflies and bees. It can be used to stabilize soil on slopes or embankments because of its ability to spread or clump. Flattop buckwheat performs best when planted in full sun and well draining soil.