Eriogonum brandegeei
Author: Rydb.

Brandegee wild buckwheat

Polygonaceae (buckwheat family)

Close up of Eriogonum brandegeei by Susan Spackman Panjabi

Close up of Eriogonum brandegeei by Michelle DePrenger-Levin

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G1G2
State rank: S1S2
Federal protection status: USFS Sensitive, BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

Description and Phenology

Please see 1997 profile

General description: Eriogonum brandegeei is a mat-forming perennial herb. It is typically 10 to 25 cm tall, and mats have been observed from 1 inch in diameter to more than 2 ft. in diameter. Eriogonum brandegeei has an deep, woody taproot that, along with its spreading habit, leaves it well adapted to surviving on steep, unstable slopes. Plants have been observed on "pedestals," with much of their woody root exposed. Its leaves are erect and densely hairy on both sides. The dense hair gives the plant a blue-green appearance. Eriogonum brandegeei produces leafless, unbranched flowering stalks that bear terminal clusters of white to pink or rose-colored flowers that are 3 to 3.5 mm long. The stamens are slightly exserted from the flower (Anderson 2006).

Look Alikes: Eriogonum brandegeei is distinguished from other local Eriogonum species by its leaves, which are densely tomentose on both sides, and by its unbranched flowering stalk (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowering may occur any time from late June through August, and fruits mature in August or September (Anderson 2006).


Habitat of Eriogonum brandegeei by Michelle DePrenger-Levin

Habitat of Eriogonum brandegeei by Michelle DePrenger-Levin

Occurrences of Eriogonum brandegeei are limited mostly to outcrops of the Dry Union Formation (in Chaffee County) and lower members of the Morrison Formation (in Fremont County), or to Quaternary strata that are derived from these formations (O'Kane 1988, Spackman et al. 1997, Anderson 2006). The unifying feature of all the known occurrences is the presence of a significant fraction of bentonite clay in the soil (Anderson 2006). Bentonite is derived from the decomposition of volcanic ash, and is a type of shrink-swell, or 2:1 clay. Eriogonum brandegeei is most commonly found on active slopes that can be as steep as 90 percent. It has been also been documented on flat sites, particularly where erosion has deposited clay soil in small basins (Anderson 2006). In general, this species is found on barren outcrops of white to grayish soils within open sagebrush and pinyon-juniper communities. Frequently associated species include: Atriplex canescens, Opuntia imbricata, Bouteloua gracilis, Oryzopsis hymenoides, Aristida fendleriana, Sphaeralcea coccinea, Cleome serrulata, Melilotus alba, Salsola iberica, Kochia iranica, Melitotus officialis, and Bouteloua curtipendula (Johnston et al. 1981).

Elevation Range: 5,715 - 8,648 feet (1,742 - 2,636 meters)


Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: Endemic to Colorado; Fremont and Chaffee counties. Six of the nine verified occurrences are located within a 5 by 15 mile area along the Arkansas River in Chaffee County. The other three are about 50 miles away in a 2 by 3 mile area at Garden Park, north of Canon City in Fremont County (Anderson 2006). Questionable reports of E. brandegeei in other areas are considered to be mislabeled (Anderson 2006). Estimated range is 6,828 square kilometers (2,636 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences (calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008).
Distribution of Eriogonum brandegeei in Colorado.

Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Eriogonum brandegeei based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “weakly conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.

The primary threat at this time is considered to be off road vehicle use (Anderson 2006, Rondeau et al. 2011). The species is also threatened by other recreational uses, residential and commercial development (especially near Salida), timber thinning and extraction, mining, right-of-way management, exotic species invasion, grazing, effects of small population size, rust, fire, global climate change, weed spraying and pollution (Anderson 2006). Some threats are more urgent at some sites than at others; however, all sites are threatened by recreational impacts, particularly off road vehicle use. Residential development has encroached on one of the best occurrences. All of the known occurrences are now threatened by human activities (Anderson 2006). According to the CSU Extension Service, a rust species found on some plants in the Cleora site is not a threat as it rarely causes damage to plants (Grant and DePrenger-Levin 2005, Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2005).


    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Anderson, D.G. 2006. Eriogonum brandegeei Rydberg (Brandegee's buckwheat): A Technical Conservation Assessment. [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.
    • Colorado Native Plant Society. 1989. Rare plants of Colorado. Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Colorado Native Plant Society, Estes Park, Colorado. 73 pp.
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