Flowers (left), habit (center), and habitat (right) of Packard’s mentzelia. Photos by ODA staff.
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Packard’s mentzelia is an erect, sparsely branched annual 10-40 cm tall, with white to pale green stout stems. The basal leaves are linear and entire or with shallow narrow lobes; the upper leaves are linear to ovate-lanceolate, entire, sessile, occasionally somewhat clasping, and densely pubescent. Flowers are either solitary in the stem axils or arranged in terminal clusters subtended by sessile, oblanceolate, entire, and somewhat clasping bracts. Sepals are five in number, triangular, and recurved and persistent on mature capsules. Petals are five in number, yellow, with or without an orange spot at the base, ovate to round, mucronate or slightly retuse, and 8-15 mm long. Stamens number 15-30 and are 4-10 mm long; the style is 4-10 mm long and equal to or shorter than the stamens. Capsules are erect and cylindrical, tapering to the base, the axillary capsules 1.5-3 cm long, the terminal capsules 0.8-2.5 cm long. The brownish seeds number 10-20 per capsule, and are irregularly angled to slightly prismatic, the angles sometimes shallowly grooved.
Packard’s mentzelia is distinguished from other annual species of Mentzelia located within or near its range by its combination of a sparsely branching habit, dense leaf pubescence, relatively large flowers, and irregularly angled seeds. The rare M. mollis occurs slightly east of the range of Packard’s mentzelia in Oregon, is low growing (5-12 cm tall versus 10-40 cm tall), is more profusely branched, has wider leaves, and has 40-50 stamens (versus 15-30), with the style much exceeding the stamens (versus equal to or shorter than the stamens).
When to survey
Surveys should be completed when this species is flowering, from mid May through June.
Packard’s mentzelia occurs at the base of talus slopes along canyon walls in rocky, volcanic ash substrates. The species is found at elevations from 823-1600 m (2700-5250 ft).
Although this harsh habitat is devoid of most woody vegetation, there are a few herbaceous associates, including Astragalus cusickii var. sterilis, Camissonia claviformis ssp. cruciformis, Eriophyllum sp., Lathyrus sp., Monardella sp., Phacelia lutea, Senecio ertterae, Thelypodium sp., and Trifolium owyheense. The ash deposits on which these species occur are surrounded by Artemisia-Atriplex dominated plant communities.
Packard’s mentzelia is endemic to the Owyhee Desert, with five known occurrences in the vicinity of Leslie Gulch in east central Malheur County, Oregon, and one disjunct occurrence in Elko County, Nevada.
Species of Concern
Threats to this species include habitat loss and direct destruction of plants due to mining activities, road construction activities, and recreational land uses, including off-road vehicle use. Exotic weed invasions and prolonged drought conditions may pose additional threats to Packard’s mentzelia.
Did you know?
Packard’s mentzelia was first described in 1976 by graduate student Judith Glad, who studied this and other species of Mentzelia for her Master’s degree in botany.
Glad, J. B. 1975. Taxonomy and ecology of Mentzelia mollis Peck and related species. M.S. thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Glad, J. B. 1976. Taxonomy of Mentzelia mollis and allied species (Loasaceae). Madroño 23:283-292.
Meinke, R. J. 1982. Threatened and endangered vascular plants of Oregon: An illustrated guide. Unpublished report for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, Portland, Oregon. Oregon Department of Agriculture, Salem, Oregon.
NNHP (Nevada Natural Heritage Program). 2001. Rare plant fact sheet: Mentzelia packardiae. Nevada Natural Heritage Program, Carson City, Nevada.
ORBIC (Oregon Biodiversity Information Center). 2010a. Rare, threatened and endangered species of Oregon. Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.
ORBIC (Oregon Biodiversity Information Center). 2010b. ORBIC element occurrence database. Portland, Oregon.
Peck, M. E. 1961. A manual of the higher plants of Oregon. Binfords and Mort, Portland, Oregon.