Page author: David Giblin
Eriogonum ovalifolium
cushion buckwheat, oval-leaved eriogonum
WTU specimens
Other herbaria

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; British Columbia south to California, east to the Rocky Mountains.

Habitat: Sagebrush deserts, juniper and ponderosa pine forests, to alpine ridges.

Flowers: May-August

Origin: Native

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Mat-forming perennial that is highly variable in leaf shape, pubescence, length of flowering stem and flower color.


All basal, white-woolly on both surfaces to somewhat green on the upper surface, spatulate (less than 1 cm. long, without a petiole) to elliptic to rhombic to oblanceolate, the blades 5-20 mm. long and 3-15 mm. broad on petioles 1-3 times as long as the blades. In Washington, it is primarily a sub-alpine species, with white-woolly leaves about 1.5 cm. long and broadly elliptic.


The inflorescence is a capitate cluster of several involucres, 1-3.5 cm. broad, subtended by 3 or more narrow bracts, on leafless stems 3-20 cm. tall. Involucres narrowly cup-shaped, 3-5 mm. long, with 5 lanceolate, erect teeth; tepals usually cream to rosy-pink, the segments free nearly to the base, which is not stipe-like, the outer ones oblong and nearly twice as wide as the inner segments.

Identification Notes:

The tight, ball-like inflorescence on a naked, unbranched or minimally branched stem usually will separate E. ovalifolium from the similar E. strictum. If the color is bright pink to rose-red, it is E. ovalifolium, not E. strictum.

Accepted Name:
Eriogonum ovalifolium Nutt.
Publication: J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 7: 50, plate 8, fig. 1. 1834.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
var. nivale – cushion buckwheat, oval-leaved eriogonum    Chiefly in the Olympic and Cascade mountains of Washington; British Columbia south to California, east to Utah.
var. ovalifolium – cushion buckwheat, oval-leaved eriogonum    Eastern Washington; Washington south to California, east to Montana and Colorado.
var. purpureum – cushion buckwheat, oval-leaved eriogonum    East of the Cascades in Washington; widely distributed in western North America from British Columbia and Alberta south to California, east to New Mexico.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Eriogonum ovalifolium in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Eriogonum ovalifolium checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Eriogonum ovalifolium atlas page.

CalPhotos: Eriogonum ovalifolium photos.

USDA Plants: Eriogonum ovalifolium information.

69 photographs:
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