Pictured here is a large expanse of California buckwheat growing healthy and wild in O’Neill Park in November, just before the rainy season began. Notice how the flowers have turned a rusty reddish brown as this shrub reflects the changing seasons.
Field of buckwheat, oak trees and clouds in November before the seasonal rains began. (Elizabeth Wallace)
The buckwheat flower is turning to seed as winter approaches. California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) is distantly related to the Eurasian crop plant common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), which is used for pancakes, bread, and porridges. Unlike its European relative, the seed of the California buckwheat is not commonly used as a grain but instead feeds local birds and wildlife. If you trim the reddish flowers in winter, lay them on the ground for wildlife to enjoy.
California Buckwheat heading into the fall season. (Elizabeth Wallace)
Author Michael Wilken-Robinson reports in his book “Kumeyaay Ethnobotany” that native Baja Californians cook buckwheat flowers and leaves with water to make a tea to calm nerves. Others report using California buckwheat to cure digestive disorders. Medicinal uses for buckwheat are widespread among the Kumeyaay people.
Kumeyaay Ethnobotany by Michael Wilken-Robinson
In the spring and summer, California buckwheat is an important source of nectar for bees and is prized for the fragrant honey produced from the flower. Buckwheat honey has a delicate flavor and aroma.
Honey bee visiting buckwheat. Photo by Kris Ethington.
More honey comes from pollinated buckwheat than any other native plant in California. Visit your local farmer’s market to purchase local buckwheat honey and enjoy its sweet, rich flavor throughout the year.
Buckwheat honey. (Elizabeth Wallace)
It’s hard to resist the allure of the iconic California buckwheat and all of the benefits it will provide in your garden landscape.
The city of Dana Point is partnering with the Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society (OCCNPS) on an ambitious 200-plant Buckwheat in Every Garden giveaway this Friday, November 15 at the Dana Point Community Center.
Four-inch ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat plant is ready to be planted in a new Orange County home landscape. (Elizabeth Wallace)
OCCNPS and the city of Dana Point will give away 200 four-inch ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat plants from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Dana Point Community Center at 34052 Del Obispo Street on Friday, November 15.
Buckwheat giveaway earlier this month. Photo by Thea Gavin.
Tree of Life Nursery selected the ‘Dana Point’ California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) from a buckwheat plant growing at the Dana Point Headlands. The ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat is a long-flowering shrub that grows one-foot tall and three-feet wide, making it well-suited to smaller home landscapes and gardens.
‘Dana Point’ buckwheat. Photo by Kris Ethington.
One ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat plant per homeowner will be given in exchange for the homeowner’s street and city. OCCNPS is mapping the buckwheats as they are planted across Orange County home landscapes on the BIEG iNaturalist map. A recent version of the iNaturalist map is shown here with nearly 700 buckwheats planted across Orange County.
A Buckwheat in Every Garden iNaturalist map.
Please join us this Friday and help make Dana Point’s namesake buckwheat giveaway a success. The plants are ready to go into the ground. Get yours this Friday, November 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dana Point Community Center at 34052 Del Obispo Street, Dana Point, California.
Newly installed ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat. Photo by Rob Skinner.
California buckwheat. Photo by Ron Vanderhoff.
The idea for A Buckwheat in Every Garden was hatched in July 2019 when board members of the California Native Plant Society, Orange County chapter (OCCNPS) met for their annual strategy meeting. The goal of the campaign: To encourage Orange County homeowners to install California native plants in their home landscapes to support healthy urban environments.
OCCNPS committee members defined the goals of the campaign: Distribute 1,500 California buckwheat ‘Dana Point’ plants, one plant per Orange County homeowner, from October 2019 through February 29, 2020, or until all plants are distributed. Plants are given in exchange for the homeowner’s street and city address, so the plants can be mapped on A Buckwheat in Every Garden iNaturalist map.
The committee worked with Tree of Life Nursery to support the cultivation of 1,500 ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat plants in decorative four-inch containers. The committee also worked with Roger’s Gardens to help distribute and promote the buckwheat campaign.
California buckwheat ‘Dana Point’ variety. Photo by Laura Camp.
OCCNPS committee members created a blog and a web page and began an Instagram and Twitter account. A new iNaturalist mapping program was created specifically for the campaign and added to the OCCNPS web site.
A Buckwheat in Every Garden is funded by OCCNPS’ small treasury and is operated with all volunteer labor. OCCNPS is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit organization. Upcoming buckwheat give-away outreach events are listed below (while supplies last):
OCCNPS gives away California buckwheat ‘Dana Point’ at Acorn Day in O’Neill Regional Park. Photo by Ian Morrell.
- San Clemente Garden Club, Wednesday, November 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., San Clemente.
- Laguna Beach Garden Club, Friday, November 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Laguna Beach.
- Sherman Library and Gardens, Friday, November 8 from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., Corona del Mar.
- The city of Dana Point, Dana Point Community Center, 34052 Del Obispo, Dana Point, Friday, November 15 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. This event is ambitious: We hope to distribute 200 buckwheats in four hours. Help us make that happen. We will see you there.
Fullerton Arboretum event on November 1st. Photo by Maryanne Mayeda.
If you haven’t had a chance to pick up your free buckwheat yet, join us at one of the four events listed above, and share your address with us so we can plot your new buckwheat on the iNaturalist map. The plants go quickly, so arrive early.
Fairy bee visits buckwheat. Photo by Kris Ethington.
Most people recognize the common honey bee as a social creature that lives in hives and makes honey. However many people don’t know that honey bees are non-native insects, introduced from Europe.
European honey bee visiting buckwheat. Photo by Kris Ethington.
There are 1,600 species of native bees in California, ranging in size from one-inch long to less than one-quarter inch long. California native bees are often solitary, living in wood or underground tunnels, and most do not make honey. They are important to the existence of our wild lands, and serve as food that supports other species.
Fairy Bees visit buckwheat blossoms. Photo by Kris Ethington.
California native bees love buckwheat’s profusion of blossoms. If you look closely at your California buckwheat when it’s in full bloom in the summer, you will see hundreds of tiny bees and butterflies scattered throughout its blossoms.
Fiery Skipper butterfly visits buckwheat. Photo by Kris Ethington.
If you would like to learn more about California native bees, visit the website for UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.
And if you would like to support our native pollinators, join us as we give away California buckwheat plants (while supplies last) at three upcoming events in November:
- The Fullerton Arboretum is hosting A Buckwheat in Every Garden give-away on Friday, November 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Roger’s Gardens is giving away four-inch California ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat plants from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Corona del Mar on Friday, November 1.
- The San Clemente Garden Club is hosting a buckwheat give-away on Wednesday, November 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. Brad Jenkins, President of the Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society, will be presenting that afternoon as well.
An Urbane Digger Bee in flight. Photo by Kris Ethington.
OCCNPS gave away more than 400 ‘Dana Point’ buckwheat plants in October. Visit our iNaturalist map to see the hundreds of buckwheat plants that have gone to their new Orange County home landscapes.