Native Plants for the Intermountain West: Plant List

Strict Buckwheat in the Landscape

Stephen Love, University of Idaho

Scientfic Name:  Eriogonum strictum
Common Name:  Strict buckwheat

Description:  Strict buckwheat is a long-lived perennial with a woody crown and semi-evergreen leaves. Leaf color ranges from grayish-green to silver. The leaves form dense, attractive mounds. The flowers appear late in the season, July into October, and range from yellow to white to dark pink. The most attractive forms have white or pink flowers. The flowers are borne on numerous stems and mask the foliage. Late bloom makes this plant a valuable addition to the fall landscape. Strict buckwheat is a good subject for a xeric bed or border.

Native Habitat:  Widely distributed, but not common from northern California and Nevada, north into Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Typically grows on dry flats and rocky slopes among sagebrush, short clump grasses, and other xeric forbs. Grows at elevations ranging from 1,300 to 8,100 feet.

Cultural Requirement

Soil:  Prefers a neutral to alkaline, nutrient-poor, well-drained soil. Tolerates clay soils if not over-watered.

Moisture Tolerance:  Xeric conditions or limited supplemental water if grown under very dry conditions.

Sun/Shade/Preference:  Full sun.

Transplanting:  Seedlings are susceptible to damping-off. Pot-grown seedlings transplant easily when 2-5 inches tall. Larger plants may become more difficult to transplant, and cannot be handled bare-root.

Propagation:  Best from seed. Germination may be enhanced by a short (2 to 4 weeks) of cold stratification. Difficult from cuttings.

Maintenance (pruning, fertilization, deadheading, division, irrigation, etc):  Plants need removal of old seed heads in late fall or spring. Plants are otherwise very easy to care for, requiring limited irrigation (one to four times during dry years) and little or no fertilization.

Insect, disease, or other problems:  Strict buckwheat has no pests of consequence.

Landscape Value

Use in the Landscape:  Very effective in xeric landscapes when planted with other low-to-medium height plants, or in front of shrubs or taller plants. Contributes well in mounded beds or in border plantings. Can be used in either naturalized or formal designs.

Foliage:  Leaves are spoon-shaped, grayish-green, brownish, or silver in color. Over time they form large, dense mounds.

Flower:  Depending on provenance, flowers are dark to light yellow, white to cream, or light to dark pink in color. Individually tiny flowers are arranged in numerous, loosely arranged umbels. Flowering stems are numerous and grow radially from the leaf mound, creating the appearance of a half sphere.

Timing:  July, Aug, Sep, Oct

Color:  Yellow, white, pink

Fruit:  Inconspicuous achene enclosed in a dried perianth. Each flower produces only one seed.

Form:  Mounded leaves with tall, radiating flower stems that create a spherical form in bloom.

Texture:  Moderately fine.

Ultimate Size:  In bloom - 12 to 20 inches tall; out of bloom - 6 to 8 inches tall. Width is greater than height, up to 30 inches wide when mature.

Rate of Growth:  Moderately slow. The plants often bloom sparsely the first year and progressively get larger with more bloom in subsequent years.

Suggested Plant Partners:  A nice companion for all spring blooming perennials, such as Penstemon strictus, Erigeron formosissimus, or Campanula rotundifolia. Also, complements medium to large native grasses, red flowering penstemon species, and late blooming mint species such as Agastache cana or Salvia pachyphylla.

Availability:  Limited availability as potted plants. Seed can occasionally be purchased from the Eriogonum Society or from native plant seed suppliers.

Cultivars:  None.


Nicholls, G. 2002. Alpine Plants of North America: An Encyclopedia of Mountain Flowers from the Rockies to Alaska. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Nold, R. 2008. High and Dry: Gardening with Cold Hardy Dryland Plants. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Robson, K.A., Richter, A. and Filbert, M. 2008. Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
USDA Plant Database