Michael Park, a graduate student in botany at the University of California, Berkeley, had no good reason to search for Mount Diablo buckwheat during a survey of grasslands on the mountain in May 2005. This plant had last been seen 69 years ago and was assumed to be extinct. It had been rare even in its original habitat, among native bunch grasses. Those bunchgrasses have long been crowded out by introduced range grasses.
Nonetheless, "something in the wind" led Park to keep an eye out for Eriogonum truncatum that particular day--and to his amazement, he saw it. About 20 of the delicate pink-flowered plants were growing near an animal trail on the southeast flank of the mountain. "It was a shock," said Park.
His colleagues at the U.C. Botanical Garden, amazed and excited, announced the discovery, but kept the location secret, fearing a stampede of plant enthusiasts. After the buckwheat had matured and died, Park and Holly Forbes, curator and conservation officer at the Botanical Garden, collected a few hundred seeds, and last winter, propagator John Domzalski successfully germinated a dozen and grew new plants. The gardeners will collect seeds from both the cultivated and wild plants to sow in the wild and help reestablish the buckwheat in its original habitat.