Eriogonum gypsophilum

Seven River Hills Buckwheat

FWS Focus

Overview

Characteristics
Overview

Gypsum wild buckwheat is a rare, woody-stemmed wildflower with waxy, bold green leaves and bright yellow, star-shaped flowers clustered atop raised stalks. When these flowering stalks deteriorate with age, they readily detach at their bases and tumble away, dispersing seed as they go. While seeds likely only persist for a single year in the wild, this species may need to wait up to 15 years for suitable germination conditions: several successive days of substantial rainfall. Gypsum wild buckwheat grows in a harsh desert climate on gypsum deposits left by an ancient sea. These deposits dissolve easily when wet and form a hard physical soil crust when they dry. This soil crust prevents erosion and preserves soil moisture but limits opportunities for seedling emergence.

In addition to preserving soil moisture, the chemistry of gypsum may also provide a source of soil moisture. Gypsum contains mineralized (rock) water, and some organisms can extract water from these rocks. It’s unknown if gypsum wild buckwheat can “drink rocks,” but it’s one of the few actively growing plants during drought and an important food source for many insects and mammals.

Gypsum is a very soft mineral that forms ultra-fine soils. These soils are sensitive to surface disturbance because they are easily eroded and/or compacted. When the physical soil crust is broken, soil is easily lost to wind; and as little as a single vehicle pass over wet gypsum soils can cause compaction. Gypsum wild buckwheat can’t establish or persist in shallow or compacted soils, and soil development and decompaction occur slowly—over centuries to millennia.

This species is only known from four locations along tributaries to the Pecos and Black rivers in Eddy County, New Mexico. The reason for gypsum wild buckwheat’s rarity within the archipelago of gypsum soils throughout its range is unknown. This may be an evolutionarily young species with a short history of rare, long-distance dispersal events.

Adams, J.A., A.S. Endo, L.H. Stolzy, P.G. Rowlands, and H.B. Johnson. 1982. Controlled experiments on soil compaction produced by off-road vehicles in the Mojave Desert, California. Journal of Applied Ecology 19(1): 167-175.

Adams, J. E. 1944. Upper permian ochoa series of Delaware Basin, West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. AAPG Bulletin 28(11): 1596-1625.

Caplow, F. 2005. Seedling studies of Eriogonum codium (Umtanum wild buckwheat) [Natural Heritage Report 2005-05]. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, Washington. https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/amp_nh_erco_seedling.pdf, accessed December 28, 2020.

Gucker, C.L. and N.L. Shaw. 2019. Parsnipflower buckwheat. Western Forbs: Biology, Ecology, and Use in Restoration, 24 pp. https://greatbasinfirescience.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/ERHE2_A.pdf, accessed December 28, 2020.

Knight, P.J. 1993. A status review of gypsum wild buckwheat. Submitted to USFWS, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 68 pp.

Marble, J. R. 1985. Techniques of revegetation and reclamation of land damaged by off-road vehicles in the Lake Mead Recreation Area. Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Department of Biological Sciences, 71 pp.

Meyer, S.E. and A. Paulsen. 2000. Chilling requirements for seed germination of 10 Utah species of perennial wild buckwheat (Eriogonum Michx. [Polygonaceae]). Native Plants Journal 1(1):18-24.

Moore, M.J. and R.K. Jansen. 2007. Origins and biogeography of gypsophily in the Chihuahuan Desert plant group Tiquilia subg. Eddya (Boraginaceae). Systematic Botany 32(2): 392-414.

Moore, M.J., J.F. Mota, N.A. Douglas, H.F. Olvera, and H. Ochoterena. 2014. The ecology, evolution and assembly of gypsophile floras. Plant Ecology and Evolution in Harsh Environments. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, 30 pp.

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information [NOAA-NCEI]. n.d. Climate data online search. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/search, accessed December 23, 2020.

Palacio, S., J. Azorín, G. Montserrat-Martí, and J.P. Ferrio. 2014. The crystallization water of gypsum rocks is a relevant water source for plants. Nature Communications 5(1): 1-7.

Pérez, C.J., S.S. Waller, L.E. Moser, J.L. Stubbendieck, and A.A. Steuter. 1998. Seedbank characteristics of a Nebraska sandhills prairie. Journal of Range Management 51: 55–62. https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/viewFile/9280/8…, accessed December 28, 2020.

Spellenberg, R. 1977. A report on the investigation of Eriogonum gypsophilum and Haplopappus spinulosus subspecies laevis in the vicinity of the Brantley Reservoir, Eddy Co., NM. Submitted to New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Stevens, R., K.R. Jorgensen, and J.N. Davis. 1981. Viability of seed from thirty-two shrub and forb species through fifteen years of warehouse storage. The Great Basin Naturalist 41(3): 274-277. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2349&contex…, accessed December 28. 2020.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service [USDA-FS]. 2010. ERFA2 [species profile]. https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/beyers/psw_2010_beyers013(montal…, accessed December 28, 2020.

Webb, R.H. and H.G. Wilshire. 1980. Recovery of soils and vegetation in a Mojave Desert ghost town, Nevada, USA. Journal of Arid Environments 3(4): 291-303.

Scientific Name

Eriogonum gypsophilum
Common Name
Seven River Hills buckwheat
gypsum wild buckwheat
Gypsum wild-buckwheat
FWS Category
Flowering Plants
Kingdom

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Lifecycle

Characteristics
Reproduction

Gypsum wild buckwheat reproduces sexually by pollination of ovaries. It has perfect, or bisexual, flowers that may be partially self-compatible. Self-fertilized ovules, however, are likely produce fewer and lower quality seeds. Gypsum wild buckwheat pollination success is more likely to depend on a diverse community of pollinators that on a single, specialized pollinator. 

Gypsum wild buckwheat seeds are small, camouflaged within senesced tepals, and notoriously difficult to detect. 55 to 74% of gypsum wild buckwheat inflorescences produce seed, and each inflorescence produces between 0 and 95 filled seeds. Estimates of seed viability in Eriogonum species range from less than one percent to 69%.

Gypsum wild buckwheat dispersal is unstudied, but the seeds of Eriogonum species are dispersed by wind, rain, streams, and animals. We assume that gypsum wild buckwheat seed is primarily dispersed within populations by sheet run-off, ants, and small mammals. We also assume that dispersal beyond populations by birds or drainage flooding is rare.

Gypsum wild buckwheat seedling recruitment of genetically unique individuals is low, and—in most years—does not compensate for mortality. In multiple studies, few definite gypsum wild buckwheat seedlings were observed. Gypsum wild buckwheat demographic plots consist of 0.24 to 0.49% seedlings, or approximately 1 seedling for every 200 to 400 established individuals. Seedlings have an average survival rate of 28.57% from July of year one to July of year two. 

For gypsum wild buckwheat germination to occur, viable seeds must lodge in a suitable microsite, overcome dormancy, and experience germination-inducing soil moisture, temperature, and solar exposure conditions within the range of the seed’s longevity. Gypsum wild buckwheat seed longevity is unknown, and most Eriogonum seeds may not survive beyond one year in wild seed banks. We assume that significant gypsum wild buckwheat seedling establishment occurs when infrequent climatic episodes suitable for seed germination and seedling establishment occur during the growing season. Several successive days of substantial rainfall and cloudy conditions appear to be needed to soften the surface crust, allowing seeds to settle into the substrate for germination and for the plants to break through the physical soil crust. New plants typically become reproductive within 3 to 5 years, or when they reach a size of 2 in (50 mm).

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2020. DTM_ERIGYP_2017: 2017-2020 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Caplow, F. 2005. Seedling studies of Eriogonum codium (Umtanum wild buckwheat) [Natural Heritage Report 2005-05]. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, Washington. https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/amp_nh_erco_seedling.pdf, accessed December 28, 2020.

Gucker, C.L. and N.L. Shaw. 2019. Parsnipflower buckwheat. Western Forbs: Biology, Ecology, and Use in Restoration, 24 pp. https://greatbasinfirescience.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/ERHE2_A.pdf, accessed December 28, 2020.

Knight, P.J. 1993. A status review of gypsum wild buckwheat. Submitted to USFWS, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 68 pp.

Meyer, S.E. and A. Paulsen. 2000. Chilling requirements for seed germination of 10 Utah species of perennial wild buckwheat (Eriogonum Michx. [Polygonaceae]). Native Plants Journal 1(1):18-24.

Neel, M.C., J. Ross‐Ibarra, and N.C. Ellstrand. 2001. Implications of mating patterns for conservation of the endangered plant Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum (Polygonaceae). American Journal of Botany 88(7): 1214-1222.

Paschke, M., C. Abs, and B. Schmid. 2002. Effects of population size and pollen diversity on reproductive success and offspring size in the narrow endemic Cochlearia bavarica (Brassicaceae). American Journal of Botany 89(8): 1250-1259.

Pérez, C.J., S.S. Waller, L.E. Moser, J.L. Stubbendieck, and A.A. Steuter. 1998. Seedbank characteristics of a Nebraska sandhills prairie. Journal of Range Management 51: 55–62. https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/viewFile/9280/8…, accessed December 28, 2020.

Spellenberg, R. 1977. A report on the investigation of Eriogonum gypsophilum and Haplopappus spinulosus subspecies laevis in the vicinity of the Brantley Reservoir, Eddy Co., NM. Submitted to New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Steffan-Dewenter, I., and C. Westphal. 2008. The interplay of pollinator diversity, pollination services and landscape change. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 737-741.

Stevens, R., K.R. Jorgensen, and J.N. Davis. 1981. Viability of seed from thirty-two shrub and forb species through fifteen years of warehouse storage. The Great Basin Naturalist 41(3): 274-277. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2349&contex…, accessed December 28. 2020.

Tepedino, V.J., W.R. Bowlin, and T.L. Griswold. 2011. Diversity and pollination value of insects visiting the flowers of a rare buckwheat (Eriogonum pelinophilum: Polygonaceae) in disturbed and “natural” areas. Journal of Pollination Ecology 4(8): pp. 57-67.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service [USDA-FS]. 2010. ERFA2 [species profile]. https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/beyers/psw_2010_beyers013(montal…, accessed December 28, 2020.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service [USFWS]. 2021. CGC_Spp_2020: 2020 digital data package [digital dataset]. New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Lifecycle

Gypsum wild buckwheat leafs-out by late-March, sets flower buds starting in mid-April, begins flowering by late April, and blooms fully after mid-May. Seeds ripen beginning in late-June, are typically at peak ripeness in early-July, and have mostly dispersed by late-July. Seeds overcome dormancy through moist, and cold stratification in year one. Eriogonum species don’t seem to have a dormancy mechanism for maintaining a viable seedbank, so annual successful seed production is important to Buckwheat’s viability. Seedling emergence is presumed to occur infrequently, depending on suitable soil moisture conditions, starting in mid-April and extending throughout the growing season. In addition to suitable soil conditions and weather events, successful reproduction is supported by healthy populations of local plant species (to disperse predation and to support native pollinator species). While flowering and seed-production are reliable even during drought conditions, observed gypsum wild buckwheat seedling germination and seedling survival are low. It’s likely that, while in most years few to no new genetically unique individuals are recruited into gypsum wild buckwheat populations, gypsum wild buckwheat experiences significant episodic seedling recruitment events (rare but periodic climatic events that flush seedlings) that are not captured within the timeframe of existing recruitment observations.

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 1983. Threatened and endangered plants in southeast New Mexico on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Roswell District Office, Roswell, New Mexico.

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2020. DTM_ERIGYP_2017: 2017-2020 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Spellenberg, R. 1977. A report on the investigation of Eriogonum gypsophilum and Haplopappus spinulosus subspecies laevis in the vicinity of the Brantley Reservoir, Eddy Co., NM. Submitted to New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Spurrier, C.S. 1989. Morphological variation within three populations of Eriogonum gypsophilum Wooten [sic] and Standley [Master of Science graduate thesis]. New Mexico State University, Las Cruses, New Mexico.

Meyer, S.E. and A. Paulsen. 2000. Chilling requirements for seed germination of 10 Utah species of perennial wild buckwheat (Eriogonum Michx. [Polygonaceae]). Native Plants Journal 1(1):18-24.

Lifespan

Gypsum wild buckwheat longevity is estimated at up to 22 to 99 years as a perennial, woody-stemmed, iteroparous, non-clonal, self-incompatible, animal-pollinated plant with no seedbank that grows in open habitat.

Ehrlén, J. and K. Lehtilä. 2002. How perennial are perennial plants? Oikos 98(2): 308-322.

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Weight

The weight of gypsum wild buckwheat plants has not been measured. Gypsum wild buckwheat seeds weigh an average of 4 to 5 micrograms each (USFWS 2021, no page number).

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service [USFWS]. 2021. CGC_Spp_2020: 2020 digital data package [digital dataset]. New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sound

 

Size & Shape

Gypsum wild buckwheat plants branch underground, and genetically unique plants can’t be determined without genetic analysis. Each branch emerges from the soil surface as clusters of one to several basal rosettes, and each rosette is typically capable of producing a single erect, compound, cymose inflorescence (Reveal 1976, p. 441; BLM 2017, no page number). When rosette apical meristems are injured (such as by hail), gypsum wild buckwheat may produce multiple inflorescences per rosette.

Measurements (BLM 2017, no page number)

Height (vegetative and flowering individuals): 0.8 to 6.3 (median of 1.5) in (2 to 159 [median of 37] mm)

Vegetative width: 0.3 to 9.3 (median of 2.9) in (7 to 237 [median of 73] mm)

Clump count: 1 to 6 (median of 1)

Rosette count: 1 to 17 (median of 2)

Inflorescence width: to 6.3 (median of 4.8) in (to 159 [median of 123] mm)

Inflorescence count: 1 to 6 (median of 1)

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2017. DTM_ERIGYP_2017: 2017 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Reveal, J.L. 1976. Eriogonum (Polygonaceae) of Arizona and New Mexico. Phytologia 34: 409-484.

Color & Pattern

Gypsum wild buckwheat plants have bold-green leaves, yellow to pink petioles, light green peduncles, and bright yellow flowers. Subterranean stems are reddish-brown and enclosed within papery reddish-brownish sheaths. When gypsum wild buckwheat leaves deteriorate with age, they become brick-red in color. There are no gypsum wild buckwheat root observations documented.

Characteristic category

Similar Species

Characteristics
Similar Species

The only mature plant that has been confused with gypsum wild buckwheat is limewater brookweed (Samolus ebracteatus). The foliage of limewater brookweed is superficially similar to gypsum wild buckwheat both during the growing season and when senesced. Gypsum wild buckwheat can be discerned from limewater brookweed by its colorful (yellow to pink) petioles.

Seedling and juvenile plants of gypsum ringstem (Anulocaulis gypsogenus) are sometimes confused for gypsum wild buckwheat juveniles. Young gypsum ringstem leaves are more succulent than gypsum wild buckwheat leaves, and they can also be distinguished by the red- to purple-ish pigmentation on the undersides on their leaves.

Characteristic category

Habitat

Characteristics
Habitat

Gypsum wild buckwheat is a gypsophile that depends on broad, gently to moderately sloping, slightly erosional escarpments or hills of hypergypsic, slightly alkaline, loose, moderately developed clay soils containing adequate soil moisture—possibly including hydrated gypsum (water of crystallization)—and soil nutrients for survival and recruitment. These hypergypsic soils are vulnerable to erosion and compaction, and gypsum wild buckwheat's habitat is easily rendered locally unsuitable in places where natural or human-caused surface disturbance has displaced or intensely compacted these soils. Known gypsum wild buckwheat occupied areas occur adjacent to riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

Learn more about riparian
corridors and near (within approximately 3 km [1.8 mi] of) springs in the Chihuahua Deserts ecoregion. Canopy cover is low and sparse. Known populations occur where elevations range from 990 to 1090 m (3,240 to 3,580 ft.) and where average annual precipitation ranges from 33.6 to 34.7 cm (13 to 14 in). Temperatures range from an average low of -2° C (29° F) in January to an average high of 35° C (95° F) in June. The growing season starts by early-April and extends to late-October.

Unsuitable habitat occurs within, further upland from, and below suitable gypsum wild buckwheat habitats and consists of loamy soils hosting riparian woodlands, dense grasslands, or dense (impassable at 10 m intervals) shrubland.

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2020b. MAP_ERIGYP_2019: 2019-2020 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information [NOAA-NCEI]. n.d.. Data Tools: 1981-2010 Normals [online data tool]. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/datatools/normals, accessed December 29, 2020.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. 2012. Level IV ecoregions of New Mexico [vector digital data]. U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) - National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), Corvallis, OR. https://www.epa.gov/eco-research/ecoregion-download-files-state-region-6#pane-29, accessed December 29, 2020.

Weather Spark, n.d. Average weather in Carlsbad New Mexico, United States. https://weatherspark.com/y/3672/Average-Weather-in-Carlsbad-New-Mexico-United-States-Year-Round#:~:text=The%20hottest%20day%20of%20the,high%20of%2057%C2%B0F, accessed December 29, 2020.

Desert

Arid land with usually sparse vegetation.

Cave or Karst

A natural chamber or series of chambers in the earth or in the side of a hill or cliff. An irregular limestone region with sinkholes, underground streams and caverns.

Grassland

Land on which the natural dominant plant forms are grasses and forbs.

River or Stream

A natural body of running water.

Springs or Seeps

Areas where ground water meets the surface.

Characteristic category

Food

Characteristics
Food

Gypsum wild buckwheat occurs within geological formations that contain gypsum deposits, and occupies facies of at least 40% gypsum within these formations (Spurrier 1989, p. 28). Gypsum is composed of calcium sulfate and crystalized water (CaSO4·2H2O) and is highly soluble. The solubility of gypsum creates karst landscapes. In limestone landscapes, plant roots have been observed occupying karst soil pockets (karst cavities filled with soil). These soil pockets are thought to provide additional sources of water and nutrients for plants (Estrada-Medina et al. 2010, p. 12).

Gypsum wild buckwheat is endemic to hypergypsic gypsum soils, “soils having gypsum as a major component, often more than 50%” (Herrero 1992, Abstract). These soils are primarily mapped as the “gypsum land-cottonwood complex, 0 to 3 percent slopes” (GC) soil map unit (BLM 2020, no page number; United Stated Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service [USDA-SCS] 1971, p. 22). Soil depth also likely plays a role in microhabitat suitability (Spurrier 1989, p. 28; BLM 2018, no page number). Sampled occupied soils were typically 10 cm (4 in) in depth (BLM 2018, no page number).

Hypergypsic soils may alleviate water stress in arid environments. Shallow-rooted plants commonly use crystallization water in gypsum environments (Palacio et al. 2014, p. 2). During the summer, “gypsum from the most superficial layers of the soil can be easily dehydrated, releasing water molecules profitable to plants and potentially also other organisms” (Palacio et al. 2014, p. 4). During cooler periods, plants and soil microorganisms (such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus) may still be able to chemically weather water from gypsum (Palacio et al. 2014, p. 4). Use of crystallization water by gypsum wild buckwheat is unknown but consistent with observations of gypsum wild buckwheat remaining active when drought is intense (Palacio et al. 2014, p. 2).

Chemically, hypergypsic soils are toxically abundant in some plant nutrients (such as calcium, sulfur, and magnesium), and deficient in other nutrients (such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus) (Escudero et al. 2015, p. 7). Gypsophiles either manage nutrient toxicities through special adaptations (such as accumulation) or stress tolerance (Moore et al. 2014, pp. 6-7, Palacio 2007, p. 340); leaf nutrient analyses are needed to determine which strategy gypsum wild buckwheat employs. Symbiotic relationships with soil microorganisms likely facilitate gypsum wild buckwheat’s resilience to soil nutrient deficiencies. Dominant gypsophile species of New Mexico are found to have generally higher levels of colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus when compared to nearby non-gypseous grassland flora, and it’s hypothesized that gypsum floras may be co-evolving gypsum specialization in association with these and additional symbiotic microorganisms (Moore et al. 2014, p. 11).

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) play an important role in soil water and nitrogen availability in arid and semiarid ecosystems. Well-established biocrusts conserve soil moisture by increasing water infiltration and decreasing evaporative losses of water (Whitney et al. 2017, p. 3). Biocrusts also fix nitrogen. Most of the nitrogen fixed by biocrusts is released into surrounding soils, and biocrust communities may be the principle suppliers of soil nitrogen in some desert ecosystems (Austin et al. 2004, p. 229). Biological soil crusts perform a crucial role in the long-term maintenance of gypseous clay soils and the overall functionality of gypsum ecosystems (Escudero et al. 2015, p. 13).

Austin, A.T., L. Yahdjian, J.M. Stark, J. Belnap, A. Porporato, U. Norton, D.A. Ravetta, and S.M. Schaeffer. 2004. Water pulses and biogeochemical cycles in arid and semiarid ecosystems. Oecologia 141(2): 221-235.

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2018. PPI_ERIGYP_2017: 2017-2018 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2020. MAP_ERIGYP_2019: 2019-2020 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Escudero, A., S. Palacio, F.T. Maestre, and A.L. Luzuriaga. 2015. Plant life on gypsum: A review of its multiple facets. Biological Reviews 90(1): 1-18.

Estrada-Medina, A.H., B.R. Graham, C.M. Allen, D.W. Tuttle, and A.J.J. Jiménez-Osornio. 2010. Importance of subsurface soil pockets for plant growth in a karst environment. In 19th World Congress of Soil Science, pp. 12-15.

Herrero, J., J. Porta, and N. Fedoroff. 1992. Hypergypsic soil micromorphology and landscape relationships in Northeastern Spain. Soil Science Society of America Journal 56(4): 1188-1194.

Moore, M.J., J.F. Mota, N.A. Douglas, H.F. Olvera, and H. Ochoterena. 2014. The ecology, evolution and assembly of gypsophile floras. Plant Ecology and Evolution in Harsh Environments. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, 30 pp.

Palacio, S., A. Escudero, G. Montserrat-Martí, M. Maestro, R. Milla, R., and M.J. Albert. 2007. Plants living on gypsum: beyond the specialist model. Annals of Botany 99(2): 333-343.

Palacio, S., J. Azorín, G. Montserrat-Martí, and J.P. Ferrio. 2014. The crystallization water of gypsum rocks is a relevant water source for plants. Nature Communications 5(1): 1-7.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service [USDA-SCS]. 1971. Soil survey of Eddy Area, New Mexico. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 85 pp.

Whitney, K.M., E.R. Vivoni, M.C. Duniway, J.B. Bradford, S.C. Reed, and J. Belnap. 2017. Ecohydrological role of biological soil crusts across a gradient in levels of development. Ecohydrology 10(7): 69pp.

Spurrier, C.S. 1989. Morphological variation within three populations of Eriogonum gypsophilum Wooten [sic] and Standley [Master of Science graduate thesis]. New Mexico State University, Las Cruses, New Mexico.

Characteristic category

Behavior

Characteristics
Behavior

Gypsum wild buckwheat’s natural stressors include harsh climate, harsh soils, and trampling and utilization by wildlife. Gypsum wild buckwheat can avoid dehydration by strategic dormancy (staying subterranean when climatic conditions are unfavorable) and may be able to liberate water from hydrated gypsum crystals (crystallization water). Root associations with soil microorganisms (such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus) help gypsum wild buckwheat to assimilate scarce nutrients and may help gypsum wild buckwheat to weather gypsum water. These resiliencies can incite excessive herbivory; during growing season drought, gypsum wild buckwheat may be one of the only active plant species available for forage in an area. When assaulted (chemically attacked, defoliated, crushed, or displaced), gypsum wild buckwheat re-sprouts as soon as conditions conducive to growth resume.  When displaced or dug up, gypsum wild buckwheat responds by branching out new shoots from its subterranean stems.

Moore, M.J., J.F. Mota, N.A. Douglas, H.F. Olvera, and H. Ochoterena. 2014. The ecology, evolution and assembly of gypsophile floras. Plant Ecology and Evolution in Harsh Environments. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, 30 pp.

Palacio, S., J. Azorín, G. Montserrat-Martí, and J.P. Ferrio. 2014. The crystallization water of gypsum rocks is a relevant water source for plants. Nature Communications 5(1): 1-7.

Geography

Characteristics
Import/Export

While various Eriogonum species are currently utilized in the U.S. for horticultural and folk medicinal purposes, the only know collection pressure on gypsum wild buckwheat is for conservation and conservation research.  There is no recreational value to the species, as it is not offered for sale within the horticultural market at this time. It is a handsome plant, with early-season green stems that turn dark red after hoisting bright yellow flowers, which could attract rock garden hobbyists, but Buckwheat is unlikely able to persist in garden soils that are not hypergypsic. Scientific collection permits have been confined to a few vouchered specimens to document new locations of this species, and collection is currently a relatively low-magnitude threat to gypsum wild buckwheat.  Immediately foreseeable collection pressures include conservation seed collections, foliar and seed collections for genetic sampling, and foliar collections for chemical analysis.  While gypsum wild buckwheat is listed as New Mexico state endangered and federally threatened, research proposals are required to benefit the species and to be conducted in a manner consistent with rare plant sampling best practices.

Range

All four known populations of gypsum wild buckwheat occur in Eddy County in southeastern New Mexico. Gypsum wild buckwheat’s known range extends NNW/SSE 60.8 km (37.8 mi) in length and ENE/WSW 12.1 km (7.5 mi) in width between the 32° and 33° North parallels and the 104° and 105° West meridians. Euclidean distances between next nearest populations range from a minimum of 2.5 mi (4.0 km) to a maximum of 28.1 mi (45.3 km). The Euclidean distance across the species range is 37.2 miles (59.8 km). Gypsum wild buckwheat occupies between 32% and 84% of available gypsum exposure area within population bounds. The count of subpopulations within populations ranges from 3 to 80. We estimate that gypsum wild buckwheat occupies 90.40 ac range-wide, with populations ranging from 2.5 to 52.3 ac in size.

Survey efforts have not identified any additional gypsum wild buckwheat populations since 2013, but additional un-surveyed suitable habitat exists in Eddy County, New Mexico and extends south into Culberson County, Texas. The existence of additional, undocumented populations in New Mexico and/or Texas is possible.

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2020a. DTM_ERIGYP_2017: 2017-2020 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico. 

Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 2020b. MAP_ERIGYP_2019: 2019-2020 data package [digital dataset]. Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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