Native buckwheat brings sweet honey, snacks for butterflies

If you haven’t tasted buckwheat honey, you’re in for a treat. With its large distribution in California, this native buckwheat (Eriogonium fasciculatum) is the source for more native honey than any other plant.

In addition to several species of native bees, our introduced honey bees also love its abundant clusters of pink flowers that transition to white then rust as the season moves into drought. It blooms for 6 months so, ranking it high as a garden-worthy plant.

On my hikes around California, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing this ubiquitous buckwheat on the coast, the chaparral and the desert, taking on a unique appearance depending on its environment.

It’s a super butterfly food plant, attracting Bernardino dotted-blue, lupine blue, Mormon metalmark and Behr’s metalmark. Probably the most common butterfly to feed on its flowers is the nut-brown hairstreak.

These photos demonstrate its versatility as a host plant, a coastal plant and a garden plant in Los Gatos.

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