Blazing Star (Mentzelia crocea) flower in bloom along the Hite Cove trail outside Yosemite

Blazing Star (Mentzelia crocea)

Aliases:  Sierra Blazing Star

Family:  Loasa (Loasaceae)

Habitat:  This is a foothill flower, peaking at around 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) elevation. You can usually find a large stand of it sometime in April about half a mile into the Hite Cove trail. If it's in bloom, you won't miss it - it's a big, bold, and aptly named flower.

Lifespan:  Annual

Origins:  Native to the Yosemite area, and endemic to a fairly small area of California (see distribution map)

Flowering Season:  April - June

Size:  Plant up to two feet tall; flowers 2 - 3 inches across

Mentzelia crocea etymology:  The Mentzelia genus is named for German botanist Christian Mentzel (1622 - 1701), who has a German Wikipedia page but not an English one; it says he was famed for his Lexicon plantarum polyglottum universale, a book, or possibly some really special laundry, which "first appeared in 1682 in Berlin and was hung up again and again until 1815," according to Google's intriguing translation.

Crocea is a reference to the flower's color; it derives from the Latin word croceus, which means "of saffron."

This Photo:  Along the Hite Cove trail, late April

Other Resources:   CalFlora  ·  CalPhotos  ·  USDA

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