Mentzelia nuda (Pursh) Torr. & A. Gray

Sand Lily


CC = *
CW = 5
MOC = 1

© SRTurner

Family - Loasaceae

Habit - Biennial or perennial forb with a thickened taproot.

Stems - To 1 m, ascending to erect, stiff and brittle, often whitish in color, roughened with barbed hairs.

Mentzelia_nuda_stem.jpg Stem and leaves.

© SRTurner

Mentzelia_nuda_stem2.jpg Old stem and new growth.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate, short-petiolate, simple, pinnately lobed or broadly toothed, to 10 cm long, oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic, with abundant barbed trichomes on both surfaces.

Mentzelia_nuda_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Mentzelia_nuda_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Solitary terminal flowers or small racemose or paniculate clusters. Flowers subtended by 3-5 leaflike bracts.

Mentzelia_nuda_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Sepals 5, to 25 mm long. Petals apparently 10 (including 5 petaloid staminodes), to 5 cm long, oblanceolate, creamy white. Stamens numerous, the outer five flattened and modified into petalloid staminodes indistinguishable from petals. Filaments unequal, shorter toward flower center, fused together basally and to the petal bases. Hypanthium to 18 mm long. Pistil of 3 fused carpels. Ovary inferior, with 1 locule, the placentation parietal, the ovules numerous. Styles 3, united most of their length, filiform, the stigmas represented by 3 furrows or tufts of hairs.

Mentzelia_nuda_sepals.jpg Sepals.

© SRTurner

Mentzelia_nuda_flower1.jpg Flower and buds.

© SRTurner

Mentzelia_nuda_flower2.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Mentzelia_nuda_flower3.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Capsules, cylindrical or barrel-shaped, to 3 cm long, densely pubescent with minute barbed hairs, dehiscent by an apical valve.

Mentzelia_nuda_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Mentzelia_nuda_fruit2.jpg Fruit interior.

© SRTurner

Seeds - Numerous, flattened and broadly winged, 2.5-3.5 mm in diameter, the surface minutely pebbled, tan.

Mentzelia_nuda_seeds.jpg Seeds.

© SRTurner

Flowering - July - September.

Habitat - Open, sandy, disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to the U.S. Great Plains region.

Lookalikes - None.

Other info. - This striking and unmistakable species is rare in Missouri, having been found in only a single location so far. It was apparently introduced there, as the population is disjunct from its natural range in more western areas of the country. This species is easily distinguished from the other two Missouri species of Mentzelia by virtue of its large white flowers. The plant grows on barren substrate, such as mine tailings, which supports little else.

As is common within the genus Mentzelia, various parts of the plant bear stiff trichomes of a unique morphology which has been termed "pagodaform," each hair being ringed with minute whorls of barbs. This complex pattern of barbs gives a peculiar feel to the epidermis, and also causes plant parts to stick tenaciously to clothing. Leaves will sometimes cling so tightly as to survive laundering, and will also break apart into fragments before releasing their hold on the fabric. Another trait common to this genus is odd flowering times, which in M. nuda is reported to be from late afternoon to sunset. However, flowering within the Missouri population seems to follow a complex series of stimuli and is thus somewhat unpredictable.

Photographs taken at St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 8-8-2009, 8-14-2009, and 9-5-2018 (SRTurner).