Sand Blazing Star

Mentzelia involucrata

Mentzelia involucrata

Color: Cream-white

Common name: Sand Blazing Star

Latin name: Mentzelia involucrata

Family: LOASACEAE

Height: 3-14 inches

Description: Mentzelia involucrata flowers are generally borne singly, and held by 4–5 bracts. They have five sepals 7–23 mm long and five cream-yellow petals 13–62 mm long. The fruit is 14–22 mm long and 5–10 mm wide, and contains rough ash-white seeds that are 2–3 mm long. The bracts of this species are distinctive in that they are almost entirely white, with a green border.

Leaf: The leaves are between 2-18 cm long, with an irregularly toothed margin.

Range: Desert

Habitat: Creosote-bush scrub, washes, fans, steep slopes

Elevation: < 900 m.

Flowering time: Jan–May

Notes: Mentzelia seeds have been identified as a staple food source for Native American tribes of the Great Basin. In an ethnobotanical study of the Kawaiisu people, Zigmond (1981) noted that Mentzelia (ku?u) was mentioned whenever his informants were asked to list important foods, and its gathering appeared frequently in mythology. The seeds were gathered in June after flowers lost their petals, and used immediately or stored. They were parched with hot coals, then ground on a metate; the resulting food had a peanut butter-like consistency. Zigmond also claimed that clay pots were filled with Mentzelia seeds before firing, but others have questioned whether this would be possible without destroying the pots through heat shock. Mentzelia involucrata, a dicot, is an annual herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Distribution outside California: n Mexico.

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