Packard's Mentzelia - Center For Plant Conservation
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Packard's Mentzelia (Mentzelia packardiae)

This colorful annual makes its home in harsh environments. Photo Credit: Oregon Department of Agriculture
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Loasaceae
  • State: NV, OR
  • Nature Serve ID: 133919
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

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.

Where is Packard's Mentzelia (Mentzelia packardiae) located in the wild?


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, NVOR: Owyhee Uplands, Malheur County NV: Elko County

States & Provinces:

Packard's Mentzelia can be found in Nevada, Oregon

Which CPC Partners conserve Packard's Mentzelia (Mentzelia packardiae)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

  • 09/19/2020
  • Propagation Research

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).

  • 09/19/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds collected and stored at The Berry Botanic Garden

  • 09/19/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seeds collected and stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A narrow endemic - most occurrences are within a 5 km radius in Oregon. Restricted to a particular rare, green volcanic ash which is subject to off-road vehicle use and is mined for use in road construction.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store seeds from all known populations throughout the season as there is significant vegetative and floral variation among the populations and individuals mature at different times of the season. These traits may be genetically linked, in which case it is important to maximize the genetic variation of the seeds that are collected. Determine effective germination procedures. Determine effective reintroduction procedures.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Mining (Meinke 1982) . 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,

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

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.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Mentzelia packardiae was examined in a study clarifying the relationships within the Mentzelia genus and describing the general ecology of each taxon (Glad 1975). 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).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Leslie Gulch has been declared an ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern). Mining, ORV use, and recreation are limited in the protected area. 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.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Ensure no additional road construction into side canyons (Siddall et al. 1978). 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.


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Taxon Mentzelia packardiae
Authority Glad
Family Loasaceae
CPC Number 2827
ITIS 503795
Common Names Packard's mentzelia | Packard's stickleaf | Packard's blazingstar
Associated Scientific Names Mentzelia packardiae
Distribution OR, NVOR: Owyhee Uplands, Malheur County NV: Elko County
State Rank
State State Rank
Nevada S1
Oregon S2
Ecological Relationships

Mentzelia is one of the few genera that appear in the fossil record. It also contains a relatively large number of endemics, many of which have evolved to rely on specific soil characteristics in terms of composition, pH, mineral content, etc (Siddall et al. 1978). Mentzelia packardiae is associated with ash potassium levels that are extremely high (6,400 ppm ) (Glad 1976 in Siddall 1978). 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).


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