Nevada Fish & Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Steamboat buckwheat
(Eriogonum ovalifolium var. williamsiae)

Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Polygonales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Eriogonum
Species: ovalifolium
Variety: williamsiae
Habitat: The Steamboat Hills

Official Status:


Life History:

Steamboat buckwheat is a low, densely matted, compact perennial herb, 0.5-4.5 decimeters across, with numerous, densely-leaved, woody branches. The above-ground portions of the plant arise from a shallow but stout, woody, reddish-brown taproot (usually in older plants), or a shallow, fibrous, rhizomatous root system (in younger plants). Each plant bears numerous oval leaves congested in tight rosettes. Leaf blades are generally 3-8 millimeters long and are densely covered with greenish-white to tannish-white hairs. Some leaves exhibit a faint brown margin at maturity. Inflorescences are borne on erect, partly woolly stems, up to 2.5dm long. Flowers are generally white with a central greenish-brown rib, turning pinkish-tan with age.


Distribution and Habitat:


Steamboat buckwheat is restricted to substrates derived from hot springs deposits in the Steamboat Hills. At the time it was listed as an endangered species in 1986, Steamboat buckwheat was thought to consist of a single population of seven colonies, all located within an area of approximately 100 acres. In an effort to better define its distribution, Steamboat buckwheat was subsequently mapped . The information derived from this effort suggests that all known habitat and potential habitat of the buckwheat were restricted to an area of approximately 375 acres. Within that area, approximately 50 acres were actually occupied by Steamboat buckwheat plants.

The Steamboat Hills are geographically situated on the extreme western edge of the Great Basin Division of the Intermountain Region, at the base of the eastern slope of the Carson Range in the Sierra Nevada. The Great Basin is a high-elevation, mountainous, cool desert characterized by interior drainage basins. The Steamboat Hills range between approximately 4,600 and 5,900 ft elevation.




Steamboat buckwheat was listed as an endangered species in 1986 because of its vulnerability to habitat alteration that could be caused by drilling for geothermal development, recreational and commercial development, and mining activities. In addition, Steamboat buckwheat was believed actively threatened at that time by off-road vehicle use, dumping of refuse, and alterations to moisture patterns. Today, some of these factors continue to threaten Steamboat buckwheat.


Actions / Current Information:


Date Citation Title
05/21/2010 75 FR 28636 28642 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 34 Species in California and Nevada; Availability of 96 Completed 5-Year Reviews in California and Nevada
03/22/2006 71 FR 14538 14542 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 56 Species in California and Nevada: Notice of review.
07/08/1986 51 FR 24669 24672 Determination of End. Status for Eriogonum ovalifolium var. williamsiae (Steamboat Buckwheat); 51 FR 24669-24672
09/12/1985 50 FR 37252 37255 Proposed End. Status for Eriogonum ovalifolium var. williamsiae (Steamboat buckwheat); 50 FR 37252-37255
Last updated: April 16, 2014