Longleaf Wild Buckwheat

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Past, present, future meet together on one plant with silky beauty.

The Longleaf Wild Buckwheat, Eriogonum longifolium, is a perennial herb that is endangered in Florida.  Buckwheat is found in just a few places in the sand hill scrubs of six central peninsula counties.  This is an area known as the Lake Wales Rise where plant habitats are being wiped out by agriculture and housing projects.

One to ten stout and erect stems supported by a deep woody tap root reaches a height of 3 feet.  At the plants base is a basal rosette made up of leaves 6 to 8 inches in length. Basal leaves are a dark green on top and white beneath. Stem leaves are similar to the basal leaves but much smaller and widely spaced.

The inflorescence (flower arrangement) is found at the top of the plant.  This is where the stems divide and then divide again resulting in a cluster of small branches supporting   flowers.  This inflorescence is called a panicle.  At the tip of each branch is a cup like structure called an involucre (in-vuh-loo-ker). Involucer is made up of tiny modified leaves called bracts that are associated with the inflorescence. Each involucre can hold 10 to 20 tiny greenish flowers, barely ¼” in diameter, that dangle  over the edge of the involucre. Buckwheat flowers do not have petals. So we simply have an opened flower bud with six green sepals and  white silky hairs underneath. At the center of the sepals are the sex organs including nine male stamens with brown pollen anthers and three female styles.  As the flower dangles, it grows longer exposing the white silky-hairs.

I found the specimen in the picture in the rare plant garden at Box Tower in Lake Wales.

 

Dorothy Rodwell