The Santa Cruz Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens) is an extraordinary plant species, as it is endemic to three Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and Anacapa. The little shrub is mostly found on bluffs and canyons on Santa Rosa and Anacapa, but it's found all along Santa Cruz Island.
Like other buckwheat species, the Santa Cruz Island buckwheat is common in chaparral and coastal sage scrub communities and on the islands it can commonly be found among island ironwood and island oaks.
The small shrubs are identifiable by their course brown stem, fuzzy green leaves, and small bunches of light pink flowers. The Santa Cruz Island buckwheat differentiates itself from other buckwheat species with its larger seed head and overall size. Some would describe the flowers’ having a chocolatey brown color in colder months and as they age. The flowers bloom from summer to winter. It grows roughly one to three feet in height and three to five feet in width.
Santa Cruz Island buckwheat, as well as other buckwheat species, plays an important role in the biodiversity of the Channel Islands. They are a common nectar source for many butterflies and an important food source for many native birds and mammals like the island deer mouse. By having an abundance of buckwheat, more birds and butterflies are being fed.