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North Dakota's

Federally Listed Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate Species – 1995

Dakota Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum visheri)

GIF -- species photo gif--species map

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Status: Former Candidate (Note: As of February 28, 1996, this species is no longer listed as a Candidate species. However, it remains a species of management concern.)

Historical Status:
The first known collection of Dakota wild buckwheat was made in 1912 by Stephen S. Visher near Meadow, South Dakota. An earlier collection was made in North Dakota in 1907; however, this specimen was misidentified until 1977. During the 50 years following its discovery, very few specimens were collected. As a result, little is known about its historical distribution and abundance.

Present Status:
There are 40 recently documented populations recorded for Dakota buckwheat. These sites are located in 3 counties in western North Dakota and 7 counties in western South Dakota. The number of individual plants at these sites range from a few scattered individuals to several thousand plants growing in colonies. Dakota buckwheat numbers will fluctuate in local abundance depending on seasonal weather conditions.

Dakota buckwheat stays ahead of the competition by living in places where other plants cannot survive. This plant grows predominantly on barren, highly erodible, rock outcrops in badlands habitats. It may also be found on smaller erosional features in mixed grass prairie. Plants associated with Dakota buckwheat my include: russian thistle, snakeweed, silver-scale saltbush, and alkali milkvetch.

Life History:
Dakota buckwheat is a spring annual (it grows one year and then dies) that germinates and emerges in May. Flowers first appear in late June and continue to be produced into September if there is rainfall. Flowers are produced even after the basal leaves and stems have turned reddish brown. Seeds ripen and fall throughout this period. Plants may be killed by drought any time durin the growing season, but typically maintain some living branches until killed by freezing temperatures.

Aid to identification:
Dakota buckwheat is distinguished by its skeleton-like form tipped with extremely small clusters of delicate yellowish flowers. Each flower produces a single dark-brown seed. The single, slender stem extends upward 1 to 6 inches above the basal leaves before dividing into 2 or 3 branches. These branches continue to separate into finer and finer divisions of the open flower head.

Reasons for decline:
Whether Dakota buckwheat populations have increased, decreased, or remained stable is unknown since detailed trend data is lacking. Dakota buckwheat may face long-term decline in population levels from invasion of introduced plants such as russian thistle and kochia. As an annual plant, Dakota buckwheat survival is dependent on the size and condition of its seed bank and on the availability of habitat suitable for germination and seedling establishment.

Notify a natural resource agency of any suspected Dakota buckwheat sites.

Dakota buckwheat has the distinction of being the only known vascular plant found exclusively in North and South Dakota. Its closest relative lives in New Mexico. They are the only two members of a genus subsection whose origin, whether recent or ancient, is unknown. Dakota wild buckwheat is also known as Dakota eriogonum, Visher's buckwheat, and Visher's eriogonum.

The Status of Dakota Wild Buckwheat in South Dakota, by South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department, Report Number 87-8, 1987. North Dakota Sensitive Plant Field Guide, by U.S. Forest Service, 1991.

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