clay-loving wild buckwheat (Eriogonum pelinophilum)

Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:   

Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND

General Information

Clay-loving wild buckwheat is a low growing, rounded, densely branched subshrub in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). It has dark green leaves that roll inward and appear needle-like. Though it only grows 6 to 8 inches tall, it is known to live for more than 18 years. Its small white to cream colored flowers with pink veins are are clustered at the end of each branch. Clay-loving wild buckwheat can be found in bloom from late May to early September. Clay-loving wild buckwheat is endemic to the rolling clay (adobe) hills and flats immediately adjacent to the communities of Delta and Montrose, Colorado. These white alkaline clay barrens are derived from the Mancos Shale Formation, deposits from an ancient inland sea. These barrens are inhospitable to only but the most adapted species. Species found in association with the clay-loving wild buckwheat include mat saltbrush, black sagebrush, shadscale, and Adobe Hills beardtongue, another local endemic. The unique soils that support clay-loving wild buckwheat populations are limited in their distribution. This means that the clay-loving wild buckwheat is also limited in habitat. Clay-loving wild buckwheat was listed as an endangered species in 1984 because of the extremely limited range of its habitat and the high risk of habitat loss. Increasing urban, residential, and agricultural development in the region poses to irreversible alter the habitat they rely on to survive. Additionally, a major indirect effects of habitat conversion is the loss of the diversity of insect pollinators vital to the speciesí reproduction. On public lands, Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation and grazing can also have significant impacts to the species These activities can cause direct loss of plants and habitat, as well as have indirect negative affects to the species from changes in pollinator communities, habitat, and hydrology, fragmentation of populations. Over 50 species of insects (including bees, ants, and beetles) have been found to visit clay-loving wild buckwheat. In these barren landscapes where few resources are present, plants such as the clay-loving wild buckwheat can be important in sustaining an ecosystem. Much of these populations (40%) occur on private lands.

  • States/US Territories in which the clay-loving wild buckwheat is known to or is believed to occur:  Colorado
  • US Counties in which the clay-loving wild buckwheat is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
07/13/1984 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6)

» Federal Register Documents

Federal Register Documents
Date Citation Page Title
06/22/1983 48 FR 28504 28507 Proposal to Determine Clay-loving Wild-buckwheat to be End. Species & to Determine Crit. Hab.; 48 FR 28504-28507
10/06/2008 73 FR 58261 58262 5-Year Reviews of Three Wildlife Species and Eight Plant Species in the Mountain-Prairie Region
07/13/1984 49 FR 28562 28565 Final Rule to Determine Eriogonum pelinophilum to be End. species & to Designate Crit. Hab.; 49 FR 28562-28565
06/22/2009 74 FR 29456 29461 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Revise Critical Habitat for Eriogonum pelinophilum (Clay-Loving Wild Buckwheat)
09/29/2009 74 FR 49835 49842 12-month Finding on a Petition To Revise Critical Habitat for Eriogonum pelinophilum (Clay-Loving Wild Buckwheat)

» Recovery

Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
11/10/1988 Clay-loving Wild buckwheat View Implementation Progress Final
Other Recovery Documents
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
10/06/2008 73 FR 58261 58262 5-Year Reviews of Three Wildlife Species and Eight Plant Species in the Mountain-Prairie Region
  • Notice 5-year Review, Initiation
Five Year Review
Date Title
09/30/2009 Clay-loving Wild Buckwheat 5-Year Review

» Critical Habitat

Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
07/13/1984 49 FR 28562 28565 Final Rule to Determine Eriogonum pelinophilum to be End. species & to Designate Crit. Hab.; 49 FR 28562-28565 Final Rule Final designated
06/22/1983 48 FR 28504 28507 Proposal to Determine Clay-loving Wild-buckwheat to be End. Species & to Determine Crit. Hab.; 48 FR 28504-28507 Proposed Rule Not Required

To learn more about critical habitat please see http://ecos.fws.gov/crithab

» Conservation Plans

No conservation plans have been created for clay-loving wild buckwheat.

» Petitions

» Life History

Habitat Requirements

The Delta/Montrose area is dry, receiving an average of 8 to 9 inches (20 to 23 centimeters of precipitation a year. The soils where clay-loving wild buckwheat is found are described as whitish, alkaline (with a pH over 7), clay soils of the Mancos shale formation, a Cretaceous marine sediment formation. Mancos shale outcrops are relatively barren of vegetation in comparison to surrounding areas. Several components of the clay soils of the Mancos shale limit plant growth: soils are fine-textured and lose moisture more readily; clay soils are compactable which limits gas exchange and thus root growth; clay soils hold more water which is unavailable for plant use; water infiltration is slow; and the extreme swelling and shrinking of the soils limits water availability and oxygen exchange for plant roots. In addition, the soils are calcareous (containing calcium carbonate) with high pH values making for difficult growing conditions. Clay-loving wild buckwheat plants are generally found within swales or drainages that are moister than surrounding areas. Plant communities associated with Clay-loving wild buckwheat are characterized by low species diversity, low productivity, and minimal canopy cover. The associated vegetation is sparse, with clay-loving wild buckwheat generally one of the dominant species. In lower elevations near Delta, the dominant plant species is Atriplex corrugata (mat saltbrush), but at higher elevations near Montrose the dominant plant species is Artemesia nova (black sagebrush), although A. corrugata is still abundant. Other associated species include Atriplex confertifolia (shadscale), A. gardneri (Gardnerís saltbush), Picrothamnus desertorum (formerly Artemisia spinescens) (bud sagebrush), Xylorhiza venusta (charming woodyaster), and another local endemic Penstemon retrorsus (Adobe Hills beardtongue).

Movement / Home Range

Clay-loving wild buckwheat is endemic to the rolling clay (adobe) hills and flats immediately adjacent to the communities of Delta and Montrose, Colorado. The plants extend from near Lazear, east of Delta on the northern end of the speciesí range, to the southeastern edge of Montrose in Delta and Montrose Counties, Colorado, and occurs from 5,180 to 6,350 feet (1,579 to 1,965 meters) in elevation. When a rectangle is drawn around all known occurrences, it measures roughly 11.5 miles (18.5 kilometers) from east to west and 28.5 miles (46 kilometers) from north to south.

Reproductive Strategy

Clay-loving wild buckwheat is very long-lived. Flowering typically occurs from late May to early September with individual flowers lasting fewer than 3 days. Clay-loving wild buckwheat requires a pollinator, and for much of the flowering season is the most abundant species in bloom in its habitat. Over 50 species of insects visit clay-loving wild buckwheat flowers. Roughly half of these 50 species are native bees, and 18 species are native ants. In one study, seed set was similar between plants that were pollinated by ants versus flying pollinators, suggesting the importance of ants to pollination of the species. Some fruits are removed by harvester ants; however, no information is available for the species on seed dispersal mechanisms.

» Other Resources

NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.