Herbs, erect to spreading, annual, (0.5-)1-10(-20) dm, glabrous, occasionally glaucous, greenish to grayish. Stems: caudex absent; aerial flowering stems erect, solid or occasionally hollow and fistulose, 0.3-3(-4) dm, glabrous, occasionally glaucous. Leaves basal; petiole 1-7 cm, usually floccose; blade cordate to reniform or nearly orbiculate, 1-2.5(-4) × 2-4(-5) cm, densely white-tomentose abaxially, less so to floccose or subglabrous and grayish to greenish adaxially, margins entire. Inflorescences cymose, open to diffuse, flat-topped, spreading, hemispheric or narrowly erect and strict with whiplike branches, 10-90(-180) × 5-50 cm; branches glabrous, occasionally glaucous; bracts 3, scalelike, 1-3 × 0.5-1.5 mm. Peduncles absent or deflexed, rarely some ± erect distally, straight, slender to stout, 0.1-1.5 cm, glabrous. Involucres narrowly turbinate to turbinate, 1.5-2.5(-3) × 1-2.5 mm, glabrous; teeth 5, erect, (0.2-)0.5-1 mm. Flowers 1-2.5 mm; perianth white to pink, with greenish to reddish midribs, becoming pinkish to reddish, glabrous; tepals dimorphic, those of outer whorl oblong or cordate to ovate, those of inner whorl lanceolate to narrowly ovate; stamens included, 1-1.5 mm; filaments glabrous or sparsely pilose proximally. Achenes brown to dark brown, 3-gonous, (1.5-)2-3 mm, glabrous.
Eriogonum deflexum is common and often weedy throughout most of its range. It is an important source of small seed for birds. The reported use of the stem (M. L. Zigmond 1981, as E. insigne) by the Kawaiisu people as a smoking pipe is incorrect; the taxon in point was actually E. deflexum var. baratum. The desert metalmark butterfly (Apodemia mormo deserti) is found in association with E. deflexum.
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual with stems 5-200 cm tall. Leaves: Basal leaves, blade 10-40 mm, round to reniform, white-woolly below, tomentose above. Flowers: Cyme-like inflorescence, unevenly branched, generally widely spreading, glabrous, bracts scale-like; involucres on reflexed stalks, 1-3 mm unribbed, the perianth 1-3 mm, white to pinkish, glabrous, outer lobes generally cordate at base, inner narrow. Fruits: Glabrous achene 1.5-3 mm. Ecology: Found in washes, roadsides, disturbed areas, on dry flats below 4,000 ft (1219 m); flowers throughout the year. Distribution: UT to AZ and Baja Calif., MEX Notes: Very abundant, conspicuous along roadsides. The most obvious character is the dangling flowers, which can be white, light pink, or even darker vivid pink. Variable species with several different varieties, the most like variety for this region is var. deflexum. Ethnobotany: Unknown, other species in the genus widely used. Etymology: Eriogonum is from Greek erion, wool and phyllon, leaf, deflexum means bent, or turned abruptly downward. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley, 2010