February Plant of the Month: California Buckwheat

California Buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum

 

The buckwheats are very important butterfly plants and one of the pillars of their communities. California Buckwheat has a whole community of insects living with the flowers. When I was photographing some of the native bees on the flowers I discovered layers of predators. There was the native bees, the flower flies and wasps, then predators of the flower insects, then insect predators of the predators, and then a bird would show up and eat the predator of the predator, and then a butterfly would fly into the middle of the fray. In a small garden you can set a couple feet away from this shrub (or sub-shrub) and watch 50 or maybe 100 insects interact at one time. It kind of feels like playing Q in Star Trek.