Mentzelia laevicaulis var. laevicaulis
Synonyms: Mentzelia laevicaulis var. acuminata, Nuttallia laevicaulis
The photo above shows a close-up of the attractive corolla of blazing star as seen on steep gravel slopes along Washington Highway 14 above Wishram, WA.....................October 7, 2006.
Blazing star is an attractively-flowered biennial or short-lived perennial with one stem, often many branched near the base to make it appear as if it is multi-stemmed. The erect stems arise from 30-100 cm. The whitish stems have alternate, petioled leaves with deeply toothed or lobed edges. The leaf shape is oblanceolate, with the lower leaves up to 15 cm long while the upper leaves become reduced in size, sessile, and less lobed. The herbage of both stems and leaves is scabrous, meaning those surfaces are harsh, somewhat barbed, and not unlike rough sandpaper.
The flowers are terminal at the ends of the branches or at the top of the main stem. The 5 petals are a bright lemon-yellow, sharply pointed, and 2.5-8 cm long. The sepals are very narrow, shorter than and alternate to the petals. As they age, the sepals become twisted and leather, remaining as appendages on the maturing, woody fruit. The numerous stamens are about 2/3 the length of the petals, and they too are bright yellow. The ovary is inferior and the style is slightly longer than the stamens.
Blazing star may be found on open, gravel and talus slopes. It is often found on the talus or gravel slopes of the the cut-banks or shoulders along highways.
Blazing star may be found from British Columbia south along the eastern edge of the Cascades to California, and east to Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.
In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found from about Dog Mt. east to Haystack Butte between the elevations of 100'-600'. It is primarily found on the Washington side of the Columbia River.