[The Blazing Star Family in the Columbia
River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]
Blazing Star, Blazing-star Mentzelia, Common Blazing-star, Great Mentzelia, Smoothstem Blazingstar, Smoothstem Blazing-star
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.
The photo at left shows a close-up of the the flower buds and a developing fruit of blazing star as seen on steep gravel slopes along Washington Highway 14 above Wishram, WA.........October 7, 2006. The photo at right shows a close-up of the attractive flower of blazing star as seen along a road cut along Washington Highway 14 about one mile east of Roosevelt, WA........May 5, 2016..
Blazingstar still in bloom near the old Klickitat County Dump on slopes above the Crawford Oaks Trailhead, Columbia Hills State Park...........October 12, 2013.
Example of a young blazingstar (left) in bud and the basal rosette of leaves of blazingstar (right) as seen on gravelly slopes about one mile east of Roosevelt, WA........April 18, 2010. Note that examples of white-stemmed blazingstar (Mentzelia albicaulis) may also be seen in both photos.
Two examples of blazing star several days before blooming on caliche soils near Arlington, Oregon............May 12, 2012.
The photo above shows a close-up of the basal leaves of blazing star as seen on steep gravel slopes along Washington Highway 14 above Wishram, WA.........October 7, 2006.
The photo above shows a close-up of the frosty-looking stem leaves of blazing star as seen on steep gravel slopes along Washington Highway 14 above Wishram, WA..........October 7, 2006.
The dried remains of blazing star as seen in Swale Canyon (about 2 miles downhill from the Harms Road trailhead), western Klickitat County, WA.........November 9, 2017. 2017 saw bountiful snows and rains in the late winter and through mid-spring, so the blazing stars were often globose in shape like this one, rather than spindly, unbranched stems.