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Ash Meadows Blazing Star

Mentzelia leucophylla

Status Threatened
Listed May 20, 1985
Family Loasaceae (Loasa)
Description Biennial or short-lived perennial with white stems, oblong leaves, and yellow flowers.
Habitat Ash Meadows; alkaline seeps.
Threats Groundwater pumping.
Range California, Nevada

Description

Mentzelia leucophylla (Ash Meadows blazing star) is a biennial or short-lived perennial that grows as one or several, branched spindly stems, up to 21 in (53 cm) tall. Stems appear white from a covering of fine hairs. Sparse, oblong leaves with wavy margins are larger toward the base of the plant and smaller and more rounded toward the ends of the stems. Light yellow flowers are grouped at the ends of stems into broad inflorescences.

Habitat

Ash Meadows blazing star grows in saline soils on alkaline knolls along canyon washes. It is often growing with the Ash Meadows milk-vetch (Astragalus phoenix ) and the Ash Meadows sunray (Enceliopsis nudicaulis ), both federally listed as threatened.

Ash Meadows is a unique and diverse desert wet-land that is maintained by the flows from several dozen springs and seeps. These are fed by an extensive groundwater system originating in mountains over 100 mi (161 km) to the north.

Distribution

Plants are currently found in small numbers at four sites in Nye County, Nevada, near Devil's Hole and in the northern portion of the meadows. The Devil's Hole National Monument is located in the heart of Ash Meadows.

Threats

Because of its extremely local distribution and small populations, the Ash Meadows blazing star is vulnerable to any loss of its natural habitat. At least nine populations have been lost through the conversion of their habitat to agricultural land-use. The habitat of other populations has been degraded by trampling by off-road vehicles, livestock, and wild horses.

Conservation and Recovery

Critical Habitat was designated for this species to consist of about 1,200 acres (486 hectares) in the Nevada portion of Ash Meadows. About 40% of the habitat occupied by the Ash Meadows blazing star is within the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Conservation management of the 11,000 acre (445 hectare) preserve will greatly enhance the prospects for recovery of the plant, along with many other vulnerable endemics.

Contact

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Eastside Federal Building
911 N. E. 11th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
Telephone: (503) 231-6121
http://pacific.fws.gov/

References

Reveal, J. L. 1978. "Status Report on Mentzelia leucophylla Brandegee (Ash Meadows Blazing Star)." Report. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. "Recovery Plan for the Endangered and Threatened Species of Ash Meadows", Nevada. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon.

Ash Meadows Blazing Star

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