Blue mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum strictum) flowers in one of our fields (near Lookout CA/Modoc County) at the same time as rock buckwheat, the topic of my previous post (02-15-22 Rock Buckwheat). Since both plants are species within the same genus, they are similar yet have characteristic differences.
Blue mountain buckwheat is a native perennial that grows between 3,500 and 6,000 feet in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana. It prefers dry, open places, rocky slopes and scrubland.
This member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae) is not a shrub, instead it forms leafy mats of basal leaves. The leaves are greyish, woolly, rounded and have a long petiole. The flower stalk is naked and also is woolly.
The inflorescence of rock buckwheat is a single terminal umbel while blue mountain buckwheat has a compound umbel at the end of the flower stems. The flowers are creamy yellow to white and darken to reddish or orange with age. The tepals do not have a hairy line up the side as rock buckwheat tepals do. Overall the blue mountain inflorescence is less hairy.
The fruits, achenes, of blue mountain buckwheat are generally darker than those of rock buckwheat.
The species designation of blue mountain buckwheat, strictum, means upright in Latin.