An interesting member of the buckwheat family, wicker stemmed eriogonum (Eriogonum vimineum) grows near the Lower Campground at Ash Creek (Lassen County CA). Many of the “buckwheats” have inflorescences (flower clusters) in the shape of umbels (umbrella-like clusters) or panicles (branched and blooming from the bottom up). The wicker stemmed inflorescence is an array of open branches lined with small clusters of pinkish, whiteish or pale yellow flowers.
Found in dry, disturbed areas, sagebrush deserts and dry ponderosa forests, wicker stemmed eriogonum thrives in serpentine soils. Serpentine rocks derive from the metamorphosis of deep sea mantle rocks and are seen in subduction zones on land. An annual native, wicker stemmed eriogonum inhabits the Pacific Coast States, Nevada and Idaho.
Wicker stemmed eriogonum stems are widely branched on the top section and are surrounded at the base by a rosette of oval leaves coated with hairs. The basal leaves have short petioles (stalks). The cup-shaped flowers have five rounded lobes and darker midribs. The fruit is a three-angled achene (small, dry, one seeded, nut like).
Wicker-stemmed eriogonum does not have any culinary or medicinal uses of which I am aware.
Wicker stem eriogonum, broom buckwheat and buckwheat eriogonum are other colloquial names for Eriogonum vimineum.