a-plant-a-day-10

California buckwheat: Eriogonum fasciculatum, Polygonaceae (buckwheat family)

I think this is my favorite plant genus, because often the lanky, bare-bones stalks of these plants bifurcate, even trifurcate (is that a word?) near the tips, and look like rough scientific triangular drawings, or alien lifeforms, or underwater creatures. This plant caught my eye because I only have known it in the fall as a brick-red, monochromatic dried out shrub, topped with edible flower pompoms, which were all eaten by small critters or blown away in the gusty winter winds. So for a while, these plants were just thin rusty reeds, surrounded by a shriveled base of green leaves that resemble rosemary. And then one day, I noticed all these pliable, kind of adolescent in their energy, lime green stalks emerging from the base of now plumper, almost succulent green leaves. I think I laughed when I first saw it. (Sanity check. Is this normal to laugh at a pre-pubescent plant?)

It's one of the ingredients we use in the HDTK, so I'm familiar with it as a food resource, but I've not yet witnessed its seasonal transformation from fresh herbaceous growth into dried out seed chambers. So I've been stalking this one daily, and caught this bush right before the white flower heads begin to form. Nearby plants are already exhibiting their spring blooms, so it won't be long for this one. Supposedly, the eriogonum genus is non-toxic; the seeds are collected in the fall when the entire plant becomes a dull red color, but in Temalpakh, the authors note that the green shoots were also eaten. The plant is generally astringent, and is used medicinally for diahreah, stomach upset, hangovers, and menstrual cramps.

(cellular phone which stores all photographs is currently out of commission, photo update later)