Dry, open, rocky sites at elevations of 700 to 12,000 feet with shallow, sandy soils, especially on sunny slopes and ridges
Western Canada south to California and east into Colorado and New Mexico
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Sulfur buckwheat is difficult to identify as it is highly variable with over 30 recognized varieties! Their branched woody stems can form low mats or shrubs to over 2 feet tall. Their small, bright yellow flowers are clustered together in large balls, or umbels, at the tips of the leafless stems. A whorl of leaflike bracts can be seen below their flowerhead. Sulfur buckwheat flowers often change color as they age, turning reddish, sometimes cream or purple. Their small, oval leaves are found at the base of the plant, they can have white wooly hairs on their underside.
Sulfur buckwheat is an important plant for a variety of native pollinators and a host plant for the larva of several species of butterflies including the lupine blue.
Tribes throughout western North America traditionally used different parts of the sulphur-flower buckwheat plant to treat a variety of ailments. The Paiute and Shoshone made a poultice of mashed leaves, and sometimes roots, to treat lameness or rheumatism, and took a hot decoction of roots for colds or stomachaches.
Sulfur buckwheat flowers between May and September.
Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, 2nd Edition, 2013. Karen Wiese
Great Basin Wildflowers, 1st Edition, 2005. Laird R Blackwell
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