Blazing star beauties: Friday flowers

Blazing star beauties in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Wildflowers blooming on Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Pilot Butte view in Bend, Oregon August 2019

I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.

Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.

They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.

Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.

Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).

They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.

Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.

Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.

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