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This gorgeous shade of green has a lot of extra personality. My friends have all tried to pronounce it, but. . .Mentzelia laevicaulis is a showy wildflower native to western North America. In California it is found in most counties throughout the state. Its common names include Giant Blazing Star and Smoothstem Blazing Star. It grows a weedy-looking, branched stem which may reach a meter in height. The whitish-green stem and its lateral branches bear the occasional triangular sawtoothed leaf. At the tip of each branch blooms a spectacular yellow flower. The star-shaped flower has five narrow, pointed petals with shiny yellow surfaces, each up to 8 centimeters long. Between the petals are long, thin yellow sepals. The center of the open-faced flower is filled with a great many whiskery yellow stamens. Beneath the petals are long, curling leaves. The plant bears capsule fruits containing winged seeds. This is a widespread plant which can be found in sandy, rocky, and disturbed areas, such as roadsides.
Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution. 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.
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. 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. Loasaceae leaves, buds, stems, and fruit of plants are covered with stiff, hooked hairs that cling to fingers, clothes, and fur. William Weber says: "The sandpaper surface of the leaves of Loasaceae is caused by some of the strangest plant hairs known". The hairs are longer than broad; they narrow very gradually so they look like a pagoda. Each hair is multicellular, giving the appearance of a layer cake, each layer is 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. (Source: www.swcoloradowildflowers.com)