This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.
San Miguel Island red buckwheat
Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
Size: Under 2 feet tall
Bloom season: Summer, fall
Exposure: Sun to partial shade
Pruning needs: Little or none; remove spent flower heads in late fall or winter
Water needs: Once established, water deeply twice a month
Snapshot: Butterflies can't resist this California native and many birds like it, too. An eye-catching perennial from the Channel Islands, this red buckwheat needs little care or water; it can go most of the summer with little irrigation. One of the showiest small buckwheats, it fits nicely into dry perennial beds and butterfly gardens. The big, long-lasting flower heads range from pink to deep red. San Miguel Island buckwheat thrives in salt air and sandy soil, but can tolerate clay and frost, too. It's hardy down to 20 degrees. You can see specimens in the arboretum's Ruth Risdon Storer Valley-Wise Garden on the UC Davis campus.
Why it's a Favorite: "I like this plant because it's beautiful, bulletproof and very attractive to bees and butterflies!" said arboretum volunteer Lynda Ives.
. For more on the Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars, click on http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu