Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lobb's buckwheat on the Sierra Nevada Crest south of Roller Pass

Lobb's buckwheat (Eriogonum lobbii), also named granite buckwheat, grows on rocky slopes and outcrops of the northern Sierra Nevada at mid and high elevation [1-4]. The shown plants were found during this year's Labor Day week-end along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) south of Roller Pass, where the PCT closely follows the apex of the mountain range over volcanic rocks and soil towards Mt. Anderson and Tinker Knob.

The white to pink and beige colored flowers are located at the end of long greenish purple stems around a cluster of leaves. The round flower heads typically hug the ground. The leaves are covered with a layer of woolly fabric one can easily rub away to expose the red or green leave surface (see picture below).

I haven't yet found any information on the function of the felty leave material: is it protective or does it adsorb and channel moisture to the plant?

Keywords: Northern California, alpine environment, botany, buckwheat family (Polygonaceae), dicot

References and more 
[1] Laird R. Blackwell: Tahoe WildflowersA Month-by-Month Guide to Wildflowers in the Tahoe Basin and Surrounding Areas. A Falcon Guide, Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2007; page 88.
[2] USDA Plants Profile: Eriogonum lobbii Torr. & A. Gray [plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ERLO2]. 
[3] ITIS Report: Eriogonum lobbii Torr. & A. Gray [www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=21183].
[4] CalPhotos: calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?where-genre=Plant&where-taxon=Eriogonum+lobbii.

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