Plant Ecology

Geographic Distribution and Ecological Adaptability of Fagopyrum Species in Yunnan Province

  • WANG Ziyuan , 1 ,
  • CHU Xiuying 1 ,
  • LI Wei , 1, 2, *
  • 1. School of Geography and Ecotourism, Southwest Forestry University, Kunming 650224, China
  • 2. Southwest Research Center for Eco-civilization, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Kunming 650224, China
* LI Wei, E-mail:

WANG Ziyuan, E-mail:

Received date: 2022-07-05

  Accepted date: 2023-01-30

  Online published: 2023-10-23

Supported by

The National Natural Science Foundation of China(31760175)

The National Natural Science Foundation of China(31460158)

The Special Fund for Biodiversity Conservation in Yunnan Province(213233)


The genus Fagopyrum is in the flowering plant family Polygonaceae, and includes some important food plants, such as F. esculentum (common buckwheat) and F. tataricum (tartary buckwheat). Except for these two cultivated species, the other buckwheat plants are all wild species. They are mainly distributed in southern China in general, and in Yunnan Province in particular. However, our understanding of their richness and geographic distributions in Yunnan remains very limited. The aim of the present study is to establish a list of buckwheat species found in Yunnan, examine their geographic distributions and patterns, and analyze their conservation and utilization status. The results showed a high richness of buckwheat plants in Yunnan, which accounts for nearly 70% of the global buckwheat richness. Species such as F. capillatum and F. gracilipedoides are endemic to Yunnan, and they exist nowhere else in the world. Also, the northwestern Yunnan and central Yunnan regions represent two important distribution centers of buckwheat species in Yunnan, and the highest buckwheat richness was found at the altitude range of 1500-3000 m. Many buckwheat species are rich in amino acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive substances. They are also adapted to the high-altitude regions in Yunnan with harsh climatic and soil conditions. As climate change has direct impacts on agricultural biodiversity and food security, the conservation of diversity in buckwheat species, which have both high dietary beneficial components and great ecological adaptability, merits more attention. We believe that it is important to find a balance between the protection and utilization of buckwheat resources in order to achieve the sustainable utilization of this precious natural resource.

Cite this article

WANG Ziyuan , CHU Xiuying , LI Wei . Geographic Distribution and Ecological Adaptability of Fagopyrum Species in Yunnan Province[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2023 , 14(6) : 1252 -1259 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2023.06.013

1 Introduction

Buckwheat belongs to the genus Fagopyrum, which belongs to the flowering plant family Polygonaceae. Buckwheat is an annual or perennial herb or semi-shrub plant, including both wild species and cultivated species. At present, more than 20 species have been described, including a few varieties and subspecies. China is the country with the richest buckwheat germplasm resources in the world, and growing evidence (such as natural history, cultivation history, and molecular research) shows that Southwest China is the diversity center, distribution center and origin of buckwheat plants, which breeds particularly rich wild buckwheat resources. This richness is due to the complex geographic environment and diverse climate of the region (Ohnishi, 1998; Zhou et al., 2018; Fan et al., 2019; Tang et al., 2019; Fan et al., 2020).
The cultivated species of buckwheat include F. esculentum and F. tataricum. F. esculentum is widely cultivated in Asia, Europe and America, while F. tataricum is mainly cultivated in China. Buckwheat was first planted in China about 5000-6000 years ago (Tang et al., 2019; Luitel et al., 2021). Its seeds are an important staple food source. In particular, buckwheat has made great contributions to the people living in mountain areas, where the harsh environmental conditions are not suitable for planting traditional crops. Therefore, buckwheat plays an important role in supporting the agricultural systems in mountain areas and maintaining the livelihood of local residents.
Fagopyrum wild species are widely distributed in China, and many species have important scientific research, breeding, medicinal, ornamental and other values. In 1992, Ye and Guo (1992) affirmed the status of buckwheat, further clarified the classification basis of the buckwheat species, and divided Chinese buckwheat into 10 species. Later, Li et al. (1998) also confirmed this classification in Flora of China. Since then, domestic and foreign scholars have reported the discovery of various new wild buckwheat species from Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet and other regions in China (Tang et al., 2019).
At present, the research on buckwheat in Yunnan Province mainly focuses on the discovery and identification of new species, while the research on the statistical richness and spatial distribution characteristics of buckwheat in Yunnan is still insufficient. Based on field surveys and literature collection, this study compiled and established a database of buckwheat species in Yunnan, explored the characteristics of their geographical distribution diversity and patterns, and analyzed their protection and utilization status. The goal of this study is to provide reference for the development, utilization and protection of buckwheat species in Yunnan and put forward targeted suggestions.

2 Methods

Yunnan Province is located in the southwest of China (21°08'-29°15'N, 97°31'-106°11'E). It has a tropical and subtropical monsoon climate, with alternating rainfall and drought seasons and sufficient sunshine throughout the whole year. The terrain is mainly mountainous, and the average annual and daily temperatures vary greatly. Yunnan is known as the “Kingdom of plants” due to its rich plant diversity. According to available studies, 426 families, 2592 genera and more than 17000 species of higher plants have been found in Yunnan (Shao, 2018; Zhang et al., 2020b).
Between 2015 and 2017, our research group conducted field investigations and collected specimens of buckwheat plants throughout the different counties of Yunnan. The investigation area is mainly in the central and northwestern regions of Yunnan, represented by Kunming, Lijiang, Diqing, Honghe, Dali and Chuxiong. During the investigation, the species and characteristics of wild buckwheat resources were recorded, and some plant samples were collected and identified by comparison with the Flora of China and other materials, relying on the cooperation of local agricultural technicians and consultations with local villagers. Seven species of buckwheat were collected in this investigation, including F. dibotrys, F. esculentum, F. tataricum, F. gracilipes, F. lineare, F. statice, and F. urophyllum. In addition, relevant buckwheat data were collected from sources such as the website of Flora of China (FRPS), eFlora of China (eFlora), NSII (National Specimen Resource Sharing Platform) and the published literature, so that a database reflecting the number and identity of buckwheat plants distributed in Yunnan was developed. Based on the process of GIS data exploration and interpretation, the horizontal distribution characteristics of buckwheat plants in Yunnan were analyzed at both county and prefecture levels, with the main distribution ranges and hot spots of buckwheat plants in Yunnan revealed. Meanwhile, the Jaccard similarity index (Zhang, 2004; Mei et al., 2006) was used to quantify the influence of altitude on the distribution of buckwheat plants and their vertical distribution characteristics.

3 Results

3.1 The distribution of buckwheat species in Yunnan

3.1.1 A list of buckwheat plants in Yunnan

According to our study based on field surveys and a literature review, especially recent reports of newly discovered wild species, we established a list of buckwheat species found in Yunnan. There are 13 known buckwheat species in Yunnan so far, including four species belonging to the big-achene (cymosum) group, and nine species belonging to the small-achene (urophyllum) group. Also, other than two cultivated species, the rest are all wild buckwheat species (Table 1).
Table 1 The distribution of Fagopyrum spp. in Yunnan
Species Type Main distribution range Altitude (m) Habitat characteristics
Big-achene (Cymosum)
F. dibotrys Wild species All over Yunnan 1600-2000 Waterside, wilderness, ridge, shady slope, roadside and shrub
F. homotropicum Wild species Lijiang, Deqin 1800-2800 Dry and barren on the gravel heap or cliff stone without other weeds
F. esculentum Cultivated species Lijiang, Wuding, Jinping, Deqin, etc. 1700-2700 High altitude mountainous area
F. tataricum Cultivated species Songming, Simao, Ximeng, Zhaotong, etc. 500-4000 High altitude cold mountain area
Small-achene (Urophyllum)
F. capillatum Wild species Yongsheng, Lijiang 1800-2800 Dry and barren on the gravel heap or cliff stone without other weeds
F. gracilipes Wild species All over Yunnan 1200-3300 Arid and barren wasteland, farmland and hillside
F. gilesii Wild species Deqin 2100-2400 Barren slope without other weeds
F. jinshaense Wild species Deqin 2600-2800 Hillside, common sandy grassland, etc.
F. leptopodum Wild species Luquan, Qiaojia, Lijiang, Yongsheng, etc. 1800-3000 Limestone hillside and cliff, wasteland, roadside, etc.
F. lineare Wild species Heqing, Xiangyun, Binchuan,
Kunming, etc.
1500-2500 Hillside forest edge, valley and roadside
F. statice Wild species Kunming, Chengjiang, Yuxi, Shilin, etc. 1100-2000 Hillside grassland
F. gracilipedoides Wild species Lijiang 2000-2400 -
F. urophyllum Wild species Kunming, Dali, etc. 700-2700 Soil slope, forest edge and valley shrub
In terms of geographic distribution, F. dibotrys and F. gracilipes are the two most widely distributed buckwheat species, and they occur in almost every county of Yunnan. Meanwhile, F. esculentum, F. tataricum, F. leptopodum, F. lineare, F. statice and F. urophyllum also display a wide distribution in Yunnan. By contrast, F. homotropicum, F. capillatum, F. jinshaense, F. gracilipedoides and F. gilesii are only found in northwestern Yunnan, such as in Diqing and Lijiang Prefecture. These narrowly distributed species are mainly found along the Jinsha River and Lancang River (Ohsako et al., 2002; Tang et al., 2019). In particular, F. capillatum and F. gracilipedoides are endemic to Yunnan, as neither of them has been recorded in other parts of China (Fan et al., 2020; Ohsako and Li, 2020).

3.1.2 The horizontal distribution characteristics of buckwheat plants in Yunnan

The richness of known buckwheat species was quantified and ranked at the prefecture level of Yunnan (Table 2). Lijiang Prefecture has the highest buckwheat richness (9), followed by Kunming City and Diqing Prefecture (8 for each), as well as Honghe and Dali prefectures (6 for each). By contrast, Qujing, Lincang, Baoshan cities and Dehong Prefecture have low buckwheat richness (only 2 for each; Table 2). According to the overall geographic distribution characteristics of buckwheat species in Yunnan (Fig. 1), there are two distribution centers, namely northwestern Yunnan and central Yunnan. The distribution center in northwestern Yunnan consists of a few sub-hot spots, such as some counties and districts in Diqing, Lijiang and Dali Prefectures. The distribution center in central Yunnan is Kunming City, which represents a hot spot. By contrast, the southern marginal regions of Yunnan belong to the sub-cold spots, and most of the remaining regions of Yunnan belong to these cold spots (Fig. 1).
Table 2 Richness of Fagopyrum spp. in Yunnan
City/prefecture name Number of species Ranking
Lijiang City 9 1
Kunming City 8 2
Diqing Prefecture 8 2
Honghe Prefecture 6 4
Dali Prefecture 6 4
Chuxiong Prefecture 5 6
Wenshan Prefecture 4 7
Zhongtong City 3 8
Yuxi City 3 8
Puer City 3 8
Xishuangbanna Prefecture 3 8
Nujiang Prefecture 3 8
Qujing Prefecture 2 13
Lincang City 2 13
Baoshan City 2 13
Dehong Prefecture 2 13
Fig. 1 Cold and hot spots of Fagopyrum spp. in Yunnan

3.1.3 The vertical distribution characteristics of buckwheat plants in Yunnan

For the vertical distribution analysis, seven elevational zones were defined, including 500-1000 m, 1000-1500 m, 1500-2000 m, 2000-2500 m, 2500-3000 m, 3000-3500 m and 3500-4000 m, with the number and identity of each buckwheat species found in each elevation zone recorded (Fig. 2, Table 1). This analysis showed that the number of buckwheat species distributed at either low or high altitudes was significantly lower than at the middle altitudes. In other words, the highest buckwheat richness was found at the middle altitude range (1500-3000 m).
Fig. 2 Distribution of Fagopyrum spp. at different altitude ranges
The Jaccard similarity index was used to analyze the influence of altitude on the distribution of buckwheat plants (Table 3). The Jaccard similarity values were lower than 0.5 at each altitude range level, suggesting that differences in composition exist among the different altitude ranges. Specifically, Jaccard similarity values between 1500-2000 m and 2000-2500 m, between 1500-2000 m and 2500-3000 m, and between 2000-2500 m and 2500-3000 m were relatively high, suggesting that these three altitude ranges share high numbers of buckwheat species. In particular, the Jaccard similarity between 1500-2000 m and 2000-2500 m had the highest values, whereas Jaccard similarity between 1500-2000 m and 3500-4000 m, or between 2000-2500 m and 3500-4000 m had the lowest values. Obviously, the greater the altitude range, the lower the values of Jaccard similarity, and vice versa.
Table 3 Jaccard similarity of Fagopyrum plants found at different altitude ranges of Yunnan
Altitude (m) 500-1000 1000-1500 1500-2000 2000-2500 2500-3000 3000-3500
1000‒1500 0.167(1)
1500‒2000 0.083(1) 0.222(4)
2000‒2500 0.083(1) 0.176(3) 0.310(9)
2500‒3000 0.091(1) 0.188(3) 0.269(7) 0.269(7)
3000‒3500 0.200(1) 0.222(2) 0.133(2) 0.133(2) 0.143(2)
3500‒4000 0.250(1) 0.143(1) 0.077(1) 0.077(1) 0.154(2) 0.286(2)

Note: The number of Fagopyrum species shared between two altitude ranges is indicated in parentheses.

3.2 Values of buckwheat resource utilization

3.2.1 Edible and medical value

Buckwheat has been widely used in drug development (Fan et al., 2020). Wild buckwheat, such as F. dibotrys, has a long history of medicinal use and is often used to treat diseases such as pneumonia and tonsillar swelling (Zhou et al., 2018). It provides important raw materials for the manufacture of functional food and medical products. The buckwheat plant contains high contents of bioactive substances, such as rutin and quercetin, so buckwheat has a series of health benefits, such as reducing plasma cholesterol, improving hypertension and regulating digestive disorders (Christa and Soral-Śmietana, 2008; Yilmaz et al., 2020). In recent years, researchers have begun to realize that buckwheat has high nutritional value. Buckwheat grains are rich in protein and unsaturated fatty acids, as well as balanced amino acids, starch, fiber and mineral compounds (Fabjan et al., 2003; Giménez-Bastida and Zieliáski, 2015). Therefore, buckwheat is an important source of functional food and medicine.
Buckwheat food is very popular in Yunnan. Buckwheat cakes and biscuits are the favorite snacks of local residents. In particular, tartary buckwheat tea has gradually become one of the most popular buckwheat products in Yunnan (Ikeda et al., 2012). In addition, buckwheat planting and consumption have been integrated into Yunnan minority culture. For example, the diet of the Yi people is rich in buckwheat, which is called “the mother of all crops” (Kano et al., 2004; Song et al., 2020). With the pursuit of quality of life and a healthy life, as well as the continuous improvement of medical care, the value of wild buckwheat plants is gaining more recognition, and Yunnan’s demand for buckwheat health products is increasing.

3.2.2 Livestock feed value

Fagopyrum dibotrys has been listed in the Chinese Veterinary Medicine Code and the List of Allowed Varieties for Feed Drug Additives (Deng et al., 2012). Because it is rich in nutrients and can grow well in a poor soil environment, it has been studied and utilized as a high-quality forage. Its fresh leaves contain a higher protein content than other wild feeds (Geng et al., 2020). Compared with other forages, buckwheat has five main advantages as a forage, which are rich in nutrients, unique secondary metabolites, ability to improve animal disease resistance, high yield, good palatability and environmental friendliness. At present, the development and utilization of F. dibotryst, F. gracilipes and other forage resources are gradually increasing, and they are widely used for raising pigs, cattle and poultry (Zhang et al., 2020a).

3.2.3 Ecological value

Previous studies (Wang et al., 2004; Cheng et al., 2009) found that most of the wild buckwheat plants grow in an extremely barren environment, with well-developed roots, short plants, narrow leaves, many small seeds, strong grain falling, strong disease resistance, and strong ecological adaptability, so they are widely used in ecological construction projects such as ecological modification (Jiao, 2003; Zhao et al., 2008). For example, in places with sufficient water, such as newly reclaimed land and abandoned fields, the vegetation coverage can be improved by planting F. dibotryst, F. gracilipes, and other types with vigorous growth and more branches. In arid and barren rock, gravel, sand and other places, F. leptopodum, F. lineare, and other types with small plants and low transpiration can be planted to avoid land exposure (Fan et al., 2020).

3.2.4 Ornamental value

Among the wild species of buckwheat, some are characterized by many branches, consistent plant height, a beautiful plant type, large inflorescences, many flowers, a long and consistent flowering period, and other qualities. In addition, the flowering and pollinating buckwheat plants, such as F. dibotrys, F. leptopodum, F. lineare, etc., generally have large flower organs, different stamens and styles, and nectary glands, so they can be used as potted ornamental plants and also for creating ornamental landscapes (Zhou et al., 2009).

4 Discussion

4.1 Distribution of buckwheat plants in Yunnan

Our results clearly showed that Yunnan has a high richness of buckwheat plants, which accounts for nearly 70% of global buckwheat richness. In particular, species such as F. capillatum and F. gracilipedoides are endemic to Yunnan, as they exist nowhere else in the world. Also, the northwestern Yunnan and central Yunnan regions represent two natural distribution centers of buckwheat species in Yunnan. The two cultivated species are distributed in all cities of the province, which is roughly consistent with the research results of Wang and colleagues (Wang et al., 2004). The existing research shows that the distribution center of wild buckwheat in Sichuan Province is Aba Prefecture (Wang et al., 2008) in the southwest and north of Sichuan Province. This is similar to the distribution center of buckwheat in Yunnan in terms of regional climate characteristics, which are related to the growth habits of buckwheat plants that prefer the temperatures of these areas and require high lighting conditions. Central Yunnan does not have a hot summer or a cold winter, but it has sufficient light, and the habitat characteristics preferred by buckwheat plants, so its richness is the highest. According to previous studies, most buckwheat genera in China are distributed in the range of 1000-2000 m above sea level, and some wild species grow in the range of 3500-4000 m (Dong et al., 2017). The results of this study are consistent with these conclusions, but buckwheat genera in Yunnan are concentrated in the range of 1000-3000 m above sea level, which is higher than the national average. This difference is due to the low latitude and warm climate of Yunnan Province, and the higher altitude distribution of habitats that are suitable for buckwheat growth. Also, buckwheat plants do not have strict habitat requirements, and are able to deal with different habitat conditions. For example, they are often found along ridge roads, forest edges, gravel piles, abandoned fields and sandy grasslands. Therefore, buckwheat plants are habitat generalists rather than habitat specialists. They particularly stand out when soil fertility is very poor (Ahmed et al., 2014; Zhou et al., 2018). In summary, due to their strong adaptability to harsh weather conditions and poor soil fertility, buckwheat plants play an important role in supporting the livelihood of people residing in the high-altitude mountainous regions of Yunnan.
Interestingly, we found that there are almost no buckwheat plants distributed below the altitude of 500 m, where rice and other major crops are often grown. Given that buckwheat plants exhibit high levels of adaptability and flexibility, their absence at low altitudes reflects the fact that humankind prefers high-yielding major crops over buckwheat. Therefore, although buckwheat can adjust to high-altitude regions with harsh environments, that does not mean low-temperature poor-soil conditions are optimal for their growth and development. Rather, the absence of buckwheat and the wide cultivation of major crops below the altitude of 500 m suggest a strong selective pressure associated with human demands. Therefore, although high-altitude regions with harsh environments do not represent the ideal place for buckwheat to grow, to some extent, such regions protect these stress-tolerant species from strong human selection.

4.2 Conservation and utilization of wild buckwheat species

Although Yunnan is one of the provinces in China with the highest diversity of wild buckwheat resources, and new wild buckwheat species are constantly being discovered and reported, the conservation of wild buckwheat resources in Yunnan has not received enough attention, and their growing habitats are frequently impacted or destroyed by human activities. For example, with the gradual expansion of land development and utilization, the distribution area of wild buckwheat plants has been dramatically reduced. Meanwhile, as the many values of buckwheat plants are being gradually recognized, these precious resources are sometimes experiencing uncontrolled exploitation. In order to gain economic benefits, some local residents harvest wild buckwheat plants in a destructive and unrestrained manner, and sell them to local markets for very little money, without taking into account the principles of sustainable development. Additionally, deforestation, landfills and other human-related activities have seriously affected the habitat quality of buckwheat plants, which is further intensified by global warming, acid rain precipitation, air pollution, soil erosion and other factors. All of these factors have severely affected the survival of wild buckwheat plants, causing the depletion of wild buckwheat resources and the extinction of some narrowly-distributed, small-population species. People also tend to grow crops with high productivity, but neglect the potential for causing genetic collapse or wipeout. For example, at lower altitudes (e.g., below 500 m), this productivity-focused selection has led to reductions in the distribution areas of buckwheat plants, but an expansion in the cultivation areas of major crops such as maize and wheat. Even at higher altitudes where harsh living conditions prevent major crops from growing, people often grow only common buckwheat due to its relatively higher yields compared to other buckwheat species. In fact, common buckwheat is the most economically important species of buckwheat, which accounts for over 90% of the world’s production (Small, 2017). Although the replacement of diverse wild buckwheat species by high-yielding cultivated species can help increase buckwheat yield in the short term, it may cause the loss of buckwheat germplasm diversity in the long run.
We believe that more targeted effective conservation measures should be taken to protect wild buckwheat species in Yunnan. First, a list of wild buckwheat species under key protection in Yunnan should be formulated. This list should focus on several wild species with few populations and the rarest distribution, such as F. capillatum, F. gilesii, and F. jinshaense, and the original habitat protection sites should be established for the small populations of wild buckwheat. According to the characteristics of the wild buckwheat species under protection, each conservation site shall formulate corresponding protection and management measures, and strengthen the local laws and regulations for the protection of endangered wild species. In addition, in situ and ex situ conservation measures should be taken to strengthen the protection and management of endangered species. In order to improve the protection efficiency, security responsibilities and resource monitoring should be performed regularly to stop illegal acts and reduce human interference, and strict punishments should be imposed to achieve the stability and gradual growth of the buckwheat wild populations.
On September 8, 2021, the government website of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration issued the list of national key protected wild plants. Fagopyrum dibotrys is currently listed as a national second class protected plant, and it has been preserved in many protected areas in Yunnan, such as Jiaozishan National Nature Reserve. However, there are problems of insufficient pertinence, lack of technology and experience in the construction of protection measures, and insufficient research on protection theory. At the same time, strengthening the connection between buckwheat protection and industrial projects is also one way to achieve the unity of ecological, economic and social benefits as the basis of protecting buckwheat resources. For example, Zhanyi District of Qujing City took advantage of the 2020 National Plan Golden Buckwheat Planting Project to plant more than 200 mu of F. dibotrys, and achieved great comprehensive benefits. It changed the protection mode of traditional wild growth by artificial cultivation, and realized the sustainable utilization of buckwheat resources. Dingbian County, Shaanxi Province, as the original protection area of safflower buckwheat in the world, is a successful case of realizing the double benefits of buckwheat resource protection and economic and social benefits by creating the geographically indicated protection product “Dingbian buckwheat” while developing the tourism industry.
On the other hand, accelerating the investigation and research of wild buckwheat resources in Yunnan and developing buckwheat breeding and cultivation techniques are also feasible measures for achieving better buckwheat resource protection. For example, more studies should investigate the reproductive mechanisms of buckwheat plants so that the desired genetic diversity of the subsequent generations can be ensured. Also, as wild buckwheat species contain many valuable genes, it is important to collect and evaluate them in order to preserve germplasm diversity and to make good use of such precious resources. For instance, genes related to increased seed size and reduced seed shattering can help enhance buckwheat productivity, while genes associated with resistance to adverse conditions can help boost the performance of buckwheat plants under stressful environments. In addition, since buckwheat has been widely used as an important source of rutin for functional food products, screening the genes related to rutin content can help to increase the production of rutin in buckwheat. Given that buckwheat has a significant amount of genetic diversity in its wild and cultivated forms, the collected buckwheat species should be carefully stored in long-term germplasm banks. Fagopyrum dibotrys, F. esculentum and F. tataricum belong to the same big grain group of buckwheat, which shows great potential in the breeding research of buckwheat and the innovative utilization of wild buckwheat (Fan et al., 2020). The distant hybridization between cultivated buckwheat and wild buckwheat is currently one of the most promising breeding techniques, which would allow the cultivation of new varieties with short harvest periods, high efficacy, high and stable yields, low grain falling abilities and strong lodging resistance (Ren et al., 2022).
Last, it is necessary to improve and strengthen the awareness of the importance of conserving buckwheat resources among local residents. Offering training classes and distributing popular science materials are two good ways to disseminate information and strengthen public awareness, knowledge and engagement. For example, it is important for the local people to understand that the effectiveness of conserving wild buckwheat resources depends on maintaining and/or restoring habitat quality. Also, in order to better utilize buckwheat resources, effective protection of their diversity and abundance is essential. In other words, finding a balance between the protection and utilization of buckwheat resources is the key to achieving sustainable utilization.
In summary, Yunnan is rich in buckwheat resources, and the development of buckwheat products is of great significance to the economic development of Yunnan, which is especially true for the remote mountainous regions. The nutritional, medicinal and ecological values of buckwheat plants are becoming more widely recognized. In particular, their natural and pollution-free characteristics exactly meet the food safety requirements of modern society, and their wide adaptability to varying environmental conditions makes them ideal crops of sustainable development. However, the diversity of wild buckwheat species is decreasing, and cultivation areas for cultivated buckwheat species are dwindling. Also, insufficient research efforts have caused the economic potential of buckwheat plants to remain insufficiently explored. Therefore, we should strengthen the conservation of wild buckwheat germplasm resources, as well as the development of buckwheat products, so that the mutual economic, social and ecological benefits of buckwheat can be fully utilized.

5 Conclusions

At present, a total of 13 species of buckwheat plants have been found in Yunnan Province. Other than F. esculentum and F. tataricum, the rest are wild species. Fagopyrum dibotrys and F. gracilipes are the most widely distributed, followed by F. esculentum, F. tataricum, F. leptopodum, F. lineare, F. statice and F. urophyllum, while F. homotropicum, F. capillatum, F. jinshaense, F. gracilipedoides and F. gilesii have narrower distributions, and they have only been recorded along the Jinsha River and Lancang River. Furthermore, F. capillatum and F. gracilipedoides are endemic species in Yunnan. From the perspective of horizontal distribution, there are two distribution centers of buckwheat in Yunnan, northwestern Yunnan and central Yunnan, with Lijiang, Kunming and Diqing having the highest richness of buckwheat, while the richness is lower in Qujing, Lincang, Baoshan and Dehong. For the vertical distribution, buckwheat plants are mainly distributed at middle altitudes of 1500-3000 m. In addition, the Jaccard index value at 1500-2000 m and 2000-2500 m indicates the highest similarity, with more shared buckwheat species, while these two altitudes have the lowest similarity with 3500-4000 m, and the larger the difference in altitude range, the lower the similarity.
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