Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Mentzelia albicaulis, Whitestem Blazingstar

Whitestem Blazingstar has a small but pretty yellow flower that blooms from February to July across its large geographic range. Mentzelia albicaulisWhitestem Blazingstar has 5 sepals and 5 petals with are hairy inflorescence. This species is found in elevations ranging from 1,000 to 7,000 feet. Mentzelia albicaulisWhitestem Blazingstar is an annual native plant that grows up to 16 inches or so.  Mentzelia albicaulisWhitestem Blazingstar is also called Whitestem because of its round stem is noticeably white; it is also mostly glabrous. Note lobed leaves that may be found on either basal or cauline areas of the plant. Mentzelia albicaulisWhitestem Blazingstar is found in sandy soils on plains and along washes; it may be observed in a wide range of habitats from creosote-bush scrub to pinyon juniper woodland. Mentzelia albicaulis

Scientific Name: Mentzelia albicaulis
Common Name: Whitestem Blazingstar
Also Called: Small-flowered Blazing Star, White Blazingstar, Whitestem Stickleaf (Spanish: Rama Pegajosa, Buena Mujer)
Family: Loasaceae or Blazingstar Family
Synonyms: (Acrolasia albicaulis, Acrolasia gracili, Mentzelia aspera, Mentzelia albicaulis var. ctenophora, Mentzelia albicaulis var. gracilis, Mentzelia albicaulis var. tenerrima, Mentzelia gracili, Mentzelia mojavensis, Trachyphytum gracile)
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 16 inches or so.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems slender, glabrous or with short hairs, plants erect bur mostly decumbent.
Leaves: Green; leaves sessile, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, basal leaves lobed, cauline leaves mostly lobed.
Flower Color: Yellow; flowers small but showy, shiny surface; cymose inflorescence flowers sessile; bracts lanceolate to ovate; 5 petals, 5 sepals; flowers in clusters (1 to 3), tubular when fully open; flowers with 15 to 30 stamens each with linear filament; fruit capsules club shaped.
Flowering Season: February to June; March to July in California; March to June in Texas.
Elevation: 1,000 to 7,400 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy soils on plains and along washes; California gravel fans, sand dunes, washes, creosote-bush scrub, pinyon/juniper woodland; New Mexico in dry meadows and hillsides at lower to middle elevation.

Recorded Range: Whitestem Blazingstar is found in the western half of North America. In the United States it is found in; AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA and WY. In Canada it is found in BC and SK. It is also native to Baja California and Mexico. In Arizona it is found throughout most of the state, few records in Yuma County.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Mentzelia albicaulis.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 73 species and 73 accepted taxa overall for Mentzelia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 88 accepted species names and a further 52 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the southwestern United States: Arizona has 28 species of genus Mentzelia, California has 29 species, Nevada has 26 species, New Mexico has 20 species, Texas has 17 species, Utah has 21 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Whitestem Blazingstar inter-grades with 3 other species in Mentzelia. Additionally there are many species in Mentzelia in North America and they may be difficult to identify.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora, Adonis Blazingstar, Mentzelia multiflora and Veatch's Blazingstar, Mentzelia veatchiana.

Mentzelia albicaulis has been used for a variety of purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Cahuilla Food, Porridge; Parched seeds ground into flour and used to make mush.
  • Gosiute Drug, Burn Dressing; Seeds used for burns.
  • Havasupai Food, Preserves; Seeds parched, ground, kneaded into seed butter and eaten with fruit drinks or spread on bread.
  • Hopi Other, Smoke Plant; Plant used as substitute for tobacco.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Snake Bite Remedy; Compound containing leaves used for snake bite.
  • Paiute, Northern Food, Dried Food; Seeds dried and stored for winter use.
  • Tubatulabal Food, Unspecified; Used extensively for food.

  • See all ethno-botanical uses identified at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 11/04/2105, updated 04/14/2017, updated format 09/28/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 04/12/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 04/12/2017).
    Joshua M. Brokaw, John J. Schenk & Barry Prigge 2017. Mentzelia albicaulis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 13, 2017.
    Christy, Charlotte M., Journal of AZ-NV academy of Science; Loasaceae, Stickleaf or Blazing-Star Family. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science; Volume 30, page 100.
    Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness, in Association with the Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences; & the Dale A. Zimmerman Herbarium; [accessed 4 November 2015]
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 04/13/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information