Our Plants

August 2004 Plant Highlight: Eriogonum giganteum
Image of E. giganteum   Image of E. giganteum flower

Eriogonums, or wild buckwheats, are a North American genus in the family Polygonaceae. The buckwheat grown as a crop is Polygonum fagopyrum (syn. Fagopyrum esculentum ), which is in a different genus of the same family; its seeds are ground to make a flour. The wild buckwheats are valued horticulturally both for foliage and flowers. They are mostly native to the western United States, and California alone has at least 100 kinds. The plants are not true herbs, but are weakly woody. In size, they range from tiny clumps only an inch high up to 6-foot bushes. Their flowers are small, but are massed in heads atop the flower-stalks and may be quite showy in aggregate. The usual flower colors are in the white-to-pink range or else yellow. Many species have leaves covered with white wool, which can give them considerable appeal as garden subjects.


Eriogonum giganteum, known as St. Catherine’s Lace, is the largest species of all, and it is native to Santa Barbara Island off the coast of southern California. It is one of the species with wooly white leaves, and it has white flowers in summer which turn a rusty reddish color as they age. Like many of the California wild buckwheats, it thrives in Mediterranean gardens without needing summer irrigation

Image of E. giganteum leaf
Text and Photos by Brian Kemble
Mission Statement
The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.
Centennial Celebration
We are celebrating Garden Founder Ruth Bancroft's 100th year throughout 2009. If you would like to get involved in this historic milestone, you can help by contributing to the Centennial Fund or by attending on of our many special events this year.
Grant Funders
The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position, and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our Volunteer Coordinator’s position, as well as for their generous support over the years.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden GardenConservancy