As a UC Berkeley botany graduate student, Mary Bowerman observed and recorded the Mount Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum) on Mount Diablo in 1936. And then this pretty pink flower disappeared, even though there were numerous efforts to find that patch or another patch somewhere near it in similar overall habitat.
Finally in 2005, Michael Park, another UC Berkeley graduate student, stumbled across a small patch of the buckwheat on a remote slope in Mount Diablo State Park. That patch grows on land that was purchased and added to the state park by Save Mount Diablo, the conservation organization co-founded by Mary Bowerman.
Botanists collected seeds from the 2005 buckwheat patch and sent them to be stored in seed banks and propagated at botanical gardens. At least we knew the species would never be completely lost again. However, the 2005 patch has not grown much larger in spite of efforts to increase it, and the species was still on the brink.
Then in 2016—pay dirt! Rare plant botanist (and CNPS East Bay Chapter member) Heath Bartosh, along with his colleague Brian Peterson, discovered a larger patch of the Mount Diablo buckwheat in Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, another protected area of rich native plant diversity in our chapter area. This was very good news, but there are still only two locations, so the plant could easily be wiped out by a fire or other natural disaster. Work to recover this species will continue, informed by what botanists now postulate about its preferred habitat.
Because the Mount Diablo buckwheat locations are carefully protected, most of us will probably never see this plant in the wild, but we can all appreciate it through photos and marvel at its tenacity. We can also appreciate the people and organizations that protect habitat for rare plants, including those that have not yet been found.
— Lesley Hunt, Outreach Committee Chair, CNPS East Bay Chapter