Common name: Blazing Star
Latin name: Mentzelia laevicaulis
Height: 8-39 inches
Description: Mentzelia laevicaulis grows a weedy-looking, branched stem which may reach a meter in height. The plant bears capsule fruits containing winged seeds. 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 cm 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 bracts.
Leaf: The whitish-green stem and its lateral branches bear the occasional triangular sawtoothed leaf.
Range: California (except Great Central Valley, Sonoran Desert)
Habitat: Sandy to rocky slopes, washes, roadcuts
Elevation: < 2700 m.
Flowering time: Jun–Oct
Notes: Mentzelia laevicaulis, a dicot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada. This photo was taken on July 22, 2007 on Onion Valley road, Eastern Sierra, Inyo County, California.
We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.
Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.
Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...
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