Eriogonum wrightii Torr. Ex Benth.

by Jennifer Temkin, Native Plants of Arizona 2005
Common names: bastard sage, shrubby buckwheat, Wright's buckwheat (1, 2)
Family: Polygonaceae (3)
Synonymy: Eriogonum trachygonum Torr. subsp. wrightii Stokes (4)
Etymology: Eriogonum comes from the Greek words erion (“ wool”) and gonu (“joints”) referring to its hairy jointed stems (5, 6). Wrightii honors Charles Wright (1811-1885) (7), a botanist on the United States-Mexico Boundary Commission (8)and the U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition from 1853-1856 (7).

Growth form: Low growing (8) leafy, perennial subshrub, up to 2 ft tall (3, 6), with few branches at top (8), growing in clumps (9).
Roots: Minimum root depth of 12 inches (3).
Several flowering stems (10); erect, slender, with red/brown scaly bark, lanate to tomentose on top, and a woody base (6, 11).
Leaves: Clustered mostly on the lower half of plant (6); oval to oblong or linear to lanceolate, less than 1 in. long; margins entire (6); petioles short (8); white, tomentose to floccose on both surfaces (2, 11).
Inflorescence/flowers: Racemose 5-30 cm long (10); peduncles seminaked, irregularly branched with 2-3 forks, slender ascending; involucres, 1 per node (11), loosely spicate, sessile, 1/12- 1/8 in. long with rigid teeth, scattered along peduncle or forks, appressed to branchlets; 6 sepals, 1/12 - 1/8 in. long, glabrous, white or pink; petals absent; 9 stamen, filaments inserted at base of calyx; 3 styles, stigma capitate, superior ovary, 1-celled, 3-sided or winged (2, 6, 8).
Fruit: Solitary, erect, scabrous, 3-sided achene with an acute base (6); about 3mm long (8); brown to light-brown (11).
Similar species: Eriogonum wrightii may be confused with Eriogonum leptocladon and Eriogonum nummulare in Arizona and northwest New Mexico . In E. wrightii the leaves are fasciculate and the blades range from 0.2 to 1.5 cm in length, while in E. leptocladon and E. nummulare the leaves are not fasciculate and the blades are longer, 1.5 to 3.5 cm (11).

Life history: Perennial subshrub, shrub, herb/forb (3).
Native/introduced: Native (3)
Photosynthetic pathway:
Phenology: Flowers June- September (6).
Distribution: Mexico and United States; Texas, west through New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California, and south in Mexico from Chihuahua and Sonora to San Luis Potosi (3, 6); in foothills, mountains and canyons from 3,000-7,000 ft (4, 9); found throughout the state of Arizona (4);

Flowers produce a fine, colorless honey. This plant is browsed by deer and cattle in Arizona (4). Used by the Navajo as an emetic. Seeds pounded into a meal, eaten dry, and also mixed with water and used as a beverage by the Kawaiisu (12). The tea is a good eyewash. Many California Indians use it to clean their newborns. Flowers can be used as a diuretic and for cystitis and urethritis since it is an astringent to the bladder and urethra, but does not harm the kidneys. The Cahuillas use the tea for back and hip pain during pregnancy. The tea is also good for water retention during the premenstrual period and during the last couple months of pregnancy. It helps prevent spotting at the end of menstruation and limits postpartum bleeding. It is also useful as a gargle for sore throats (13).


1. Retrieved [ November 20, 2005 ], from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, .

2. McMinn E. An Illustrated Manual of California Shrubs. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1939.

3. USDA, NRCS. 2005. The PLANTS Database , Version 3.5 ( ). Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center , Baton Rouge , LA 70874-4490 USA .

4. Kearney T. H., Peebles R. H., and collaborators. Arizona Flora . University of California Press, Berkeley, 1973.

5. Gledhill, D. The Names of Plants . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge , United Kingdom , 2002.

6. Vines, R. A. Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of the Southwest . University of Texas Press, Austin , 1960.

7. Retrieved [ December 6, 2005 ]. © 2001 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College,

8. McDougal, W.B. Seed Plants of Northern Arizona . The Museum of Northern Arizona , Flagstaff , Arizona , 1973.

9. Hogan P, Huisinga K, Kampe K. An Annotated Catalog of the Native and Naruralized Flora of Arizona . Arizona Ethnobotanical Research Association, Flagstaff , 2005.

10 . Correll DS, Johnston MC and Collaborators. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas . Texas Research Foundation, Renner, 1970.

11. Flora of North American: North of Mexico , ed. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, Oxford , 1997.

12. Moerman, D. 2003. Native American Ethnobotany Database ( ). University of Michigan , Dearborn , MI 48198 USA .

13. Moore , M. Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West . Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe , 1989.