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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

Ten-petal Mentzelia (Mentzelia decapetala)

Found rarely as far east as Ransom County, but uncommon except in a few localities in the badlands, ten-petal mentzelia has also been called "sand lily", but is not in the lily family. The plant occurs from Alberta south to Iowa and Mexico.

Ten-petal mentzelia is a coarse erect biennial or perennial from a taproot. Plants have one or more stems up to three feet tall. The coarsely-toothed leaves are 2-5 inches long and covered with spiny, sticky hairs. Large (3-5 inches wide) white to cream colored flowers open in late afternoon and close about midnight. Numerous seeds are carried in 2-inch long capsules.

Look for ten-petal mentzelia on slopes and roadsides in the badlands. The parched seeds of an Arizona mentzelia were used as food by Amerindians, but I would find no references to human use of M. decapetala. I have no data, but doubt if livestock would graze the plant because of its sticky, spiny nature.

Ten-petal mentzelia is a member of the stickleaf family (Loasaceae). This is a small family containing about 15 genera and 250 species mostly found in the drier parts of the western states, Mexico, and South America. The genus was named by Linnaeus in honor of Christian Mentzel (1622-1701) a German botanist.

M. decapetala was first described under another name by the German botanist Frederick Pursh (1774-1820) who published upon the many plants collected by Lewis and Clark. Later (1892) the plant was placed in its present taxonomic position by Ignatz Urban (1848-1931) and Ernst Gilg (1867-1933) of the Botanical Museum of Berlin. Urban was the monographer of the family Loasaceae.

Return to Loasaceae (The Loasa Family)

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