This week’s Weed – White-stemmed Stickleaf
ChiloquinNews article July 2nd, 2012
Mentzelia albicaulis known by the common name whitestem blazing star or white stemmed stickleaf is native to much of western North America, where it grows in mountains and desert. It is found mostly east of the Cascades.
The stems are erect and very pale, with short hairs. The leaves, also hairy, are oblong with pointed tips and deeply lobed edges. The hairs cause the stems to stick to clothes or skin, hence the common name of stickleaf. The flowers are small and bright yellow. It grows in any type of soil often in dry, sandy soils, at low to high elevations, with varying moisture levels, but it does need sun. It varies in height from 4 inches to 2 feet.
The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and were used by several Indian tribes. A poultice of the crushed, soaked seeds was applied to burns and also used to relieve the pain of toothache.
So why (in my opinion, that is) is this a weed? In undisturbed soil it is a low growing, very pretty native plant. However, given loosened soil and the rain that we’ve had this spring, thousands of seeds germinate and shoot up to that 2 ft height. Then they stick to everyone who tries to walk through. Not to worry though. Even if I weed it out for the rest of my life there will be no shortage of white stemmed stickleaf in my garden or east of the Cascades!