The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank & Plant Conservation Programs
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The conservation of Mentzelia packardiae is fully sponsored.
Edward Guerrant, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.
Packard's mentzelia makes its way in the harsh, dry, desolate areas of eastern Oregon and northern Nevada. Each spring, seeds germinate in otherwise almost completely barren, dry, ashy soils that have extremely high levels of potassium. Harsh conditions for any plant; but Mentzelia packardiae is able to extract sufficient water from the arid soil, allowing it to thrive where other plants cannot. This annual plant produces large, yellow flowers from early May until mid-June. Seeds set, and then the plant dies.
The discovery of Mentzelia packardiae is a story fortuitous tale. Judith Glad began her career as a Science Fiction writer. However, time and time again, her stories were rejected for being too romantic. Frustrated and looking for a change, she returned to school to pursue a Master's degree in Botany. While a graduate student at Oregon State University, Glad discovered two species unknown to science, Packard's mentzelia (Mentzelia packardiae) and Thompson's mentzelia (Mentzelia thompsonii). Glad returned to writing and is now both a successful romance novelist and an ecological consultant. Hopefully, the fate of the rare plant that she discovered will be as happy. Habitat protection through the creation of the Leslie Gulch ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) is helping to ensure that.
Distribution & Occurrence
Mentzelia packardiae grows only on a specific soil type found parts of eastern Oregon and in Elko County, Nevada. The specific soil type is characterized by ash deposits high in potassium. Soils are extremely dry. Small pockets of this soil type are home to not only Mentzelia packardiae, but also Senecio ertterae, Trifolium owyheense, and Phacelia lutea. The small patches of ash are surrounded by the Artemisia-Atriplex-Bromus community common in the arid regions of Oregon and Nevada. Elevations range from approximately 2900 ft to 5200 ft (900 - 1600 m).
OR: Owyhee Uplands, Malheur County
NV: Elko County
|One site in Nevada, population size unknown. 13 sites in Oregon, of which 6 are herbarium specimens. The known extant populations in Oregon range in size from on the order of 50 to approximately 9,000 individuals, for a grand total of around 20,000.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Is competition preventing Mentzelia packardiae from expanding its range, or has it evolved to tolerate extreme alkalinity and sever water allowing it to inhabit a niche that which is too inhospitable for other species The rocky substrate upon which M. packardiae lives is able to hold very little water. It is likely that this species has some specialized method for extracting moisture from its arid environment. Few other species seem to be able to endure these dry conditions. By adapting to extreme environmental conditions, M. packardiae has likely traded its ability to compete successfully with the plants in less extreme habitats for the ability to exploit this otherwise barren land. Consequently, it has become restricted to the very conditions that prevent other plants from invading their niche (Glad 1975).
There is significant vegetative and floral variation among populations and among individuals maturing at different times in the season (Glad 1976 in Siddall 1978). In general Mentzelia packardiae flowers from early May to Mid-June (Glad 1975).
Recreational activities (trampling by hikers) (Meinke 1982).
Off road vehicle use (Siddall et al. 1978).
Road construction, especially ash removal (Meinke 1982).
Limited range makes species vulnerable to disease, predation,
Ranking of species susceptibility to being extirpated from Nevada (Reed, Michael; Reaser, Jaimie; Launer, Allen of Stanford/CCB, UNR, 1995).
Germination studies were conducted at The Berry Botanic Garden. One set of seeds was subjected to 8 weeks of cold stratification followed either by constant 68F (20C) or alternating 50/68F (10/20C). Another set of seeds was not cold stratified, but placed directly in either of the two temperature treatments. No seeds germinated under any conditions (BBG File).
Seeds collected and stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.
Mentzelia packardiae is listed as Threatened by Oregon and Nevada. It is considered a Species of Concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ensure no new mining claims (Siddall et al. 1978).
Eliminate pesticide spraying along local roadways, as it is a threat to pollinators (Siddall et al. 1978).
Monitor populations annually for change in status (Siddall et al. 1978).
Conduct common garden experiments or genetic investigations to help determine if between- population variation is genetically or environmentally based.
Determine the size and potential longevity of any naturally occurring soil seed bank.
Determine effective germination procedures.
Determine effective reintroduction procedures.
Siddall, J.L.; Packard, P.L.; Chambers, K.L. 1978. Status Report for Mentzelia packardiae. Unpublished report. p.9.