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Mentzelia Plant Info – Learn About Blazing Star Plants And Care

Mentzelia Plant Info – Learn About Blazing Star Plants And Care


By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

What is Mentzelia blazing star? This blazing star (not to be confused with Liatris blazing star) is a showy annual with fragrant, star-shaped blooms that open in evening. The satiny, sweet-smelling flowers will bloom profusely from mid spring to early autumn. Read on for more information about blazing star flowers and how to grow them.

Mentzelia Plant Info

Mentzelia wildflowers (Mentzelia lindleyi) grow in open, sunny areas, primarily sagebrush-steppe, mountain brush and dry, rocky areas in several western states. Blazing star plants are found east of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington, and in California, Arizona and New Mexico, among others. This tough, adaptable plant grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 10.

Blazing star plant is also known as stickleaf, a well-deserved nickname for the barbed stem hairs that don’t hurt but adhere to socks, pants and sleeves like glue. Mentzelia blazing star is highly attractive to important pollinators such as native bees and butterflies.

Growing Mentzelia Flowers

Blazing star plants are nearly impossible to grow by division, due to the plant’s ultra-long taproots. If you want to try your hand at growing Mentzelia wildflowers, seeds provide the best chance of success. If you have access to a healthy stand of Mentzelia wildflowers, you can harvest a few seeds. However, be sure not to trample the ground around the plants, and never harvest more than you need. Be sure not to harvest seeds from protected areas either. Better yet, purchase blazing star seeds from a greenhouse or nursery that specializes in native plants or wildflowers.

Scatter the seeds outdoors in loose, sandy or rocky soil as soon as the weather warms in spring. Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of soil, then keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds sprout. Thin the plants to a distance of 15 to 18 inches when the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall.

Once blazing star plants are established, they tolerate dry soil, extreme heat and poor soil. However, it benefits from regular irrigation during the blooming season.

For a long-lasting display, cut the flowers down to about 2 inches after the first flush of blooms. Mentzelia wildflowers are annuals, so save a few seeds late in the blooming season for planting next year. However, if you’re lucky, the plant may self-seed.

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BARTONIA (Mentzelia) (Blazing-star), Annual Flower Information

BARTONIA (Mentzelia) (Blazing-star)

(Named for Dr. Barton, American botanist)

Were it not for the straggling growth, Barlonia aurea (Menlzelia lindleyi) would be a much more popular annual. The glistening, Poppy-like flowers are golden and are furnished with countless stamens at the center. The petals have an abrupt, sharp point. The flowers are fragrant at night. The foliage is gray, hairy, and deeply lobed and sometimes appears almost like compound leaves. The plants grow 1 to 4 feet tall.

Where to Plant. Bartonias are adapted to hot, dry places. In a rockery, its poor habit would not have as great significance as in a border.

GENERAL. Sow the seeds where they are to grow in May, as they do not bear transplanting.


Blazing Star Seeds

Mentzelia lindleyi

HOW TO GROW

Sowing: Direct sow in late fall or early spring. Sow seeds on the surface, since they need light to germinate. Keep the soil lightly moist until germination, which usually occurs in 14-21 days at 55-60 degrees F. Because of its deep taproot, this plant does not transplant well.

Growing: Water seedlings occasionally until they become established. Mature plants flourish in dry or sandy soil, easily tolerating heat and wind. Avoid poorly draining soil, since this can cause root rot. This plant is very attractive in large plantings, rock gardens, or on dry and gravelly slopes. Deadheading is not necessary, though it can extend the blooming period.

Harvesting: These blossoms do not perform well as cut flowers, and are best enjoyed outdoors.

Seed Saving: After their petals drop off, the centers of the flowers will darken and develop tight clusters of seed. Cut the heads and spread them out to dry for several days. Thresh the dried heads to separate the seed from the chaff. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.

FAST FACTS

Common Names: Blazing Star,

Latin Name: Mentzelia lindleyi

Species Origin: US Native Wildflower

Type: Native Wildflowers

Life Cycle: Annual

USDA Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

US Regions: California, Mountain, Arid/Desert, Plains/Texas, Midwest, Northern, Northeast, Southeast

Seeds per Ounce: 36,000

Stratification: No Stratification

Germination Ease: No Stratification

Sunlight: Full Sun

Height: 36 Inches

Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: Blooms Early Summer, Blooms Late Summer

Uses: Cut Flowers

DESCRIPTION

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This desert native is sometimes called Evening Star since it blooms through the night and closes with the morning sun. This annual plant has shiny petals and is very attractive in large plantings, rock gardens, or on dry and gravelly slopes.

This desert native is sometimes called Evening Star, since it blooms through the night and closes with the morning sun. The genus name "Mentzelia" refers to 17th century German botanist Christian Mentzel. The species name "lindleyi" honors 19th century English botanist John Lindley, who published many influential botanical works.

HOW TO GROW

Sowing: Direct sow in late fall or early spring. Sow seeds on the surface, since they need light to germinate. Keep the soil lightly moist until germination, which usually occurs in 14-21 days at 55-60 degrees F. Because of its deep taproot, this plant does not transplant well.

Growing: Water seedlings occasionally until they become established. Mature plants flourish in dry or sandy soil, easily tolerating heat and wind. Avoid poorly draining soil, since this can cause root rot. This plant is very attractive in large plantings, rock gardens, or on dry and gravelly slopes. Deadheading is not necessary, though it can extend the blooming period.

Harvesting: These blossoms do not perform well as cut flowers, and are best enjoyed outdoors.

Seed Saving: After their petals drop off, the centers of the flowers will darken and develop tight clusters of seed. Cut the heads and spread them out to dry for several days. Thresh the dried heads to separate the seed from the chaff. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.

FAST FACTS

Common Names: Blazing Star,

Latin Name: Mentzelia lindleyi

Species Origin: US Native Wildflower

Type: Native Wildflowers

Life Cycle: Annual

USDA Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

US Regions: California, Mountain, Arid/Desert, Plains/Texas, Midwest, Northern, Northeast, Southeast

Seeds per Ounce: 36,000

Stratification: No Stratification

Germination Ease: No Stratification

Sunlight: Full Sun

Height: 36 Inches

Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: Blooms Early Summer, Blooms Late Summer


Mentzelia pumila

Mentzelia pumila, (dwarf mentzelia, desert blazing star, blazing star, bullet stickleaf, golden blazing star, [1] yellow mentzelia, evening star, moonflower, Wyoming stickleaf, [1] etc.) is a biennial wildflower found in the western United States and northwestern Mexico from Montana and North Dakota, south to Sonora and Chihuahua. It is a blazingstar and a member of the genus Mentzelia, the stickleafs member species are also called "evening stars", but some stickleafs close at sunset, as does M. pumila.

Leaves of Mentzelia pumila are long, very narrow, and serrated-pinnate-like also medium to light grayish green an individual plant in an opportune site can be 1.5–2.5 feet (1 m) in height. The flowers are a bright, glossy medium yellow, and the major petals are variable, sometimes 5 major, 5 minor also 4 and 4.

Mentzelia pumila is covered in minute elaborations known as trichomes, which pierce and trap insects that land on it. A species of aphid, Macrosyphum mentzeliae colonises the plant and is afforded protection, since its main predator, the ladybird beetle, is unable to avoid the trichomes. [2]


Smoothstem blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

The blazingstars or stickleafs (Mentzelia) are sometimes known as nature’s Velcro because of the ease with which their leaves become fastened to fur or fabric. These sticky qualities derive from numerous hairs found on the leaf surface, each of which is ringed by barbs or downward-pointing bristles. The adaptive value of this stickiness is poorly known, though the authors of the Intermountain Flora have suggested that the force of an animal tugging against the plant may be sufficient to shake seeds out of the fruit capsules.

Smoothstem blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis) is a biennial or short-lived perennial with whitish stems up to 40 inches tall and wavy-margined, sticky leaves. It ranges widely across western North America from southern Canada to California, Utah, and Colorado, inhabiting barren slopes and disturbed roadsides. This species is unusual within its genus of 60 species (nearly all found in the western United States) in having exceptionally large flowers (1½ to 3 inches across) with just 5 yellow petals. Most other species in the genus have 8 to ten or more petals, with the extras derived from modified stamens. Similar to cultivated, multi-petaled roses, the filament stalks of the stamen have become widened and enlarged into petal-like structures and have lost the pollen-producing services of the anther. The flowers of smoothstem blazingstar open at dusk and remain open overnight and into early morning before closing for the afternoon. Hawkmoths are thought to be the primary pollinator.

If pollinators are absent, smoothstem blazingstar is capable of self-pollination. Typically, the stigma is held above the fertile anthers when the flower first opens. As the blossom closes in the afternoon, loose pollen is knocked into the floral envelope and can contact the stigma. Whether cross or self-pollinated, this species produced numerous, flat, wing-margined seeds within a woody capsule. Native Americans consumed these seeds for food. Indigenous peoples also utilized the roots of smoothstem blazingstar to treat pain from arthritis, rheumatism, and bruises.

Intrepid botanical explorer David Douglas (of Douglas-fir fame) made the earliest scientific collection of smoothstem blazingstar near the Great Falls of the Columbia River in 1825. Douglas initially named the species Bartonia laevicaulis after Benjamin Smith Barton, one of the leading American botanists of the early 19th Century and a mentor to Meriwether Lewis. Unfortunately, the genus name Bartonia was already taken, and the name was changed to Nuttallia to honor Thomas Nuttall, the 19th Century British botanist who discovered and named a large number of western plant species. Alas, this name too was later changed when Nuttallia was subsumed into the genus Mentzelia. No genus name now honors Nuttall.


What Is Mentzelia Blazing Star: Information About Mentzelia Wildflowers - garden

T he Mentzelia genus is, in the words of Intermountain Flora, "a difficult group taxonomically. [There is] a close relationship. among many of the taxa and [a] confusing array of intermediates. The taxonomy of [most of the Mentzelias] at the level of species is beset with difficulties, and there is presently no generally accepted interpretation."

Stanley Welsh, author of A Utah Flora, says, "Plants in this genus are sometimes difficult to place with certainty. The notorious variability of plant size, leaf size, shape, and lobbing, flower size, and size and shape of capsules contributes to the difficulty. Many of the features grade hopelessly into each other".

So don't feel bad about not being certain of the identification of Mentzelia species. I don't.

The first species below, Mentzelia albicaulis, is distinct enough to feel confident about. The next species is probably Mentzelia pterosperma but it is possible these are Mentzelia multiflora or hybrids.

Whatever the names of the plants are, they are very lovely and interesting. The flowers are bright yellow and numerous and the hairs are really special. William Weber says: "The sandpaper surface of the leaves of Loasaceae is caused by some of the strangest plant hairs known". T he hairs are much longer than broad they narrow very gradually so they look like a cell tower. Each hair is multicellular, giving the appearance of a layer cake, each layer a translucent cell armed with a ring of two-to-six hooks. A careful look through the microscope shows that although most hooks point downward, some point straight out, some upward. All the hairs are relatively stiff. These characteristics add up to nature's velcro.

The Mentzelia genus was named for Christian Mentzel (1622-1701), German botanist and botanical author. (Click for more biographical information about Mentzel.)

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Above and left: McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 25, 2009 and April 20, 2020.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 2, 2005.

This very slender, daintier cousin of Mentzelia pterosperma (below) can be quite numerous, but because of its often minute size, it is more difficult to find. Its stem is quite light in color ("albicaulis") and its basal rosette of leaves and its flowers are small. Flowers appear at first to be pointed but after many hours they open slowly into distinctive, tubular flowers with lobed petals. Flower stems frequently nod. Plants flower from the time they are just out of the ground until they are at their maximum height of six to twelve inches tall.

"Albicaulis" is Latin for "white stemmed" and "acrolasia" is from the Greek for "summit hairs" and refers, Weber theorizes, "to hairs at petal tips".

Mentzelia albicaulis. Synonym : Acrolasia albicaulis. (White-stem Blazing-star)
Loasaceae (Loasa Family)

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Lower Cross Canyon, Utah, April 11, 2017
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 25, 2009 and
Utah near Four Corners, April 17, 2010>

Mentzelia albicaulis grows singly or in showy masses. It grows to just an inch or so high (as in the top photograph at left) or it can grow to a foot tall.

The plant has innumerable and memorable pagosa-shaped hairs that cling like velcro. Try a leaf on your shirt.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 18, 2010.

The first three photographs below show a young plant on a hot, south facing, steep, gravelly slope. The photograph immediately above shows a plant one month later at the side of a road where it received good moisture in richer soils. I have identified both plants as Mentzelia pterosperma, but it is possible that one or more are Mentzelia multiflora. These two species are so similar that floral keys do not agree on the characteristics that separate them.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 2, 2005.

The lobed, undulating leaves of Mentzelia pterosperma are large, distinctive, and eye-catching. The stem is stout, straight, and quite light white/yellow. The buds are unusual in both their orange-to-green color and their open, flared tips. Plants grow to over a foot tall.

Thomas Nuttall was a widely traveled collector, highly respected Harvard botany instructor, and expert taxonomist in the 19th century. (Click for more biographical information about Nuttall.) "Pterosperma" means "winged seed".

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 2, 2005.

Leaves, buds, stems, and fruit of plants in the Loasaceae are covered with stiff, hooked hairs that cling to fingers and clothes.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 27, 2005.

The nearly open bud can be seen in the lower right, and the developing seed pod is just to the right of the flower. Flowers often open at night and are rarely open in sunshine.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
East of Aneth, Utah, May 3, 2007.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
East of Aneth, Utah, May 3, 2007.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
East of Aneth, Utah, May 3, 2007.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 15, 2011.

Dried, white-to-straw colored plants over-winter and persist into the spring. Surrounding these dried plants, you will find green, basal leaf rosettes which grew from the seeds of the dried plants. The next spring the rosettes will grow and the new plant will flower.

Desert, semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 15, 2011.

S emi-desert, foothills. Openings. Summer.
Carpenter Natural Area, June 8, 2014.

Although the Mentzelia genus is a difficult one, Mentzelia rusbyi has characteristics that stand out and make it easy to identify. The plant grows to 3 feet tall, it branches above the mid-point of the stem with upright branches, and the petals are usually erect.

Like some other Mentzelia, M. rusbyi has stems that are stout and straight. They tend to be green to yellow-green. Flower color ranges from white, to light yellow, to light yellow with tinges of apricot.

E. O. Wooten named and described this plant in 1898 from specimens he collected in Lincoln County, New Mexico, in 1897. Henry Rusby was a physician, professor, plant collector, and one of the founders of the New York Botanical Garden. (Click for more biographical information about Rusby.)

Mentzelia rusbyi. Synonym : Nuttallia rusbyi. (Rusby's Blazing-star)
Loasaceae (Loasa Family)

S emi-desert, foothills. Openings. Summer.
Carpenter Natural Area, May 26, 2014.

Basal rosettes are huge with very attractive bright green leaves, a wide and white mid-vein, and gently undulating margins.

Mentzelia rusbyi. Synonym : Nuttallia rusbyi. (Rusby's Blazing-star)
Loasaceae (Loasa Family)

S emi-desert, foothills. Openings. Summer.
Carpenter Natural Area, May 26, 2014.

Basal rosettes quickly grow leaves to 6 inches long and within 2-3 weeks the stem elongates to 2-3 feet tall. The stem shown at left is 14 inches tall.

Mentzelia rusbyi. Synonym : Nuttallia rusbyi. (Rusby's Blazing-star)
Loasaceae (Loasa Family)

S emi-desert, foothills. Openings. Summer.
Carpenter Natural Area, June 8, 2014.

Soft early morning light illuminates the myriad of hooked hairs characteristic of Loasaceae.

Look carefully and you will see the Aphids that were abundant on these plants.

Mentzelia rusbyi. Synonym : Nuttallia rusbyi. (Rusby's Blazing-star)
Loasaceae (Loasa Family)

S emi-desert, foothills. Openings. Summer.
Carpenter Natural Area, August 15, 2017.

About 7 weeks after flowering, seed capsules are green/yellow and ripening.

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Mentzelia albicaulis

Range map for Mentzelia pterosperma


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