Shooting star flowers plants

Using Natives to Create Pollinator Habitat: A Guide to Native Restoration

Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and insects are critical to crop production and play a crucial role in our nation’s food supply. This farminar will provide a guide to restoring native prairie by offering recommendations for research & planning, site preparation, planting, and management. This information is applicable if you’re restoring many acres or considering a backyard project. Jessi and Dennis from Shooting Star Native Seeds will talk about how to choose a seed mix, how to eliminate weeds before you plant, what equipment is needed, and the management practices needed for continued growth of your pollinator habitat.

  • Jessi Strinmoen serves as the Marketing & HR Manager at Shooting Star Native Seeds, a full-service native seed company based in Spring Grove, MN. Shooting Star has over 1,000 acres of native grasses, wildflowers, sedges, and rushes in production from seed sourced from throughout the Midwest.
  • Dennis Pederson is a Regional Sales Manager for Shooting Star Native Seeds for southwest Minnesota. In his previous role with Habitat Forever, Dennis was responsible for thousands of acres of upland habitat creation and improvement.

Shooting Star Seeds

Step-by-Step Wildflower Seed Planting Instructions

  1. Check for your last frost date and plant after this has passed. Choose a spot on your property that gets 6 or more hours of direct sun a day unless you are planting seeds for shade.
  2. Prepare your soil by clearing the area of all existing growth. Simply dig up everything that is growing, turn the soil and rake the area flat. If this is an area that has never before been gardened, you may need to till the area up to remove growth.
  3. Mix the seeds with sand* for better visibility and scatter the seeds directly on top of the soil. If you are sowing a larger area, we recommend using a seed spreader; if not, you can sow by hand.
  4. We recommend lightly compressing the seeds into the soil, making sure not to bury them. You can either walk on them, use a board or if you are sowing a larger area, rent a seed roller.
  5. Water so that the soil is moist, not soaking wet, until the seedlings are about 4-6″ tall. After that, the seedlings will survive on natural rains. If you are experiencing very dry weather, we recommend watering occasionally.

Get more information on Planting Wildflowers View more Planting Guides, or download ourcomplete Planting Guidefor tips on caring for your plants when you receive your order, as well as planting instructions for Perennials, Spring-Planted Bulbs, Fall-Planted Bulbs, Cacti & Succulents, Xeric Plants and more.

Shooting Star Care – Information On Shooting Star Plants

The common shooting star plant is native to North American valleys and mountains. The plant may be found growing wild in low elevation areas in spring or in summer where consistent moisture is available. Growing shooting star wildflowers in the native home garden is easy and produces masses of the attractive blooms having yellow or lavender collars.

Information on Shooting Star Plants

Common shooting star blooms in mid spring from May to June. The plant forms rosettes of long narrow leaves and singular slender stems. The flowers hang in umbels from the stems and are white to bright pink. The petals grow backward and up, away from the reproductive organs of the plant. These dangle down from the center and may be a pale yellow, pink or even soft purple color. Flower color combinations are blue-purple, yellow-orange or pink-red.

The common shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) is a member of the Primrose family and is a natural part of the prairie garden. These wildflowers are found in wetlands to semi-arid prairies. They are also found growing among woodland plants, especially in oak forests.

Growing Shooting Star Wildflower

The common shooting star plant produces small hard, green capsules after flowering. These fruits contain the seeds of the wildflower, which require pollination by bees to set. The mature fruit will remain on the plant until fall. The fruit pods are oval and dry out to split open with a ridge of teeth-like serrations on the woody pod.

You can harvest the pods and sow the seeds. However, some important information on shooting star plants is that the seeds require stratification, which you can mimic by putting the seed in the refrigerator for 90 days. Then plant the seeds outside in spring in a prepared bed located in sun to partial shade. Seeds germinate readily in moist soils.

Using Common Shooting Star Plant in the Garden

Use this wildflower in the native garden or near a water feature or other moist area. Common shooting star only blooms for a short period in late May to very early June but has an unusual looking flower that is a harbinger of the growing season. This herbaceous perennial plant will grow 2 to 16 inches tall and adds interesting foliage texture and fabulous blooms for the natural garden.

Shooting Star Care

Shooting star plants are short-lived perennials, which do not produce flowers the first year. shooting star care is minimal once they have established, but the plant will produce the best flower display if the stems are cut back in spring. The best flowers are produced in the third year and thereafter flowering diminishes.

Common shooting star plants need protection from deer and elk, who dine on the early shoots in spring. Some moth and butterfly larvae are also pests of the plant. Keep old plant debris out of the garden where these pests hide and place a thick mulch of bark around the base of established plants to prevent damage.

Shooting star blooming in spring.

Shooting stars are a group of herbaceous perennials in the primula family (Primulaceae). There are over a dozen species in the genus Dodecatheon, all native to North America. The most widespread and common one is D. meadia (sometimes classified as Primula meadia), variously called shooting star, eastern shooting star, American cowslip, roosterheads, or prairie pointers.

The flowers of D. meadia are said to resemble shooting stars.

This ephemeral spring wildflower from central and eastern US (southern Wisconsin to western Pennsylvania and south to eastern Texas and Georgia) is generally found growing in moist meadows, prairies, and open woods in zones 4-8. It is frequently used as a garden ornamental and received the Royal Horticulture Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Basal rosettes are produced from a fibrous root system in early spring. The smooth, lance-shaped leaves up to 6” long and 2½” across are emerald to greyish green, often with a reddish base and with a prominent central vein and smooth margins. The foliage only persists into summer, with plants going dormant after that. Over time rosettes may offset, with new plants developing slowly.

The foliage emerges in spring (L) to form a basal rosette (C) of smooth, wavy, lance-shaped leaves (R).

Flower color varies from dark pink or lavender to white.

In mid-spring one or more thin but sturdy, green or red, leafless flower scapes up to 18 inches tall are sent up from the rosette of leaves. Each terminal umbel has 8-20 flowers that open in late spring. The one-inch long, dangling flowers each have five upward reflexed petals and a cluster of yellow stamens surrounding a single, purplish green style that converge to a downward point. Within any population the petals naturally vary widely in color from purple to pink or rose or white. Northern populations tend to have lavender to purple petals and southern populations skew more toward white petals, but there is considerable variation across its range. The base of the fused petals have uneven rings of white, yellow and maroon around the base. Flowers are visited by bumblebees and some other native bees to collect pollen, but not honeybees as the flowers do not provide nectar. Pollinated flowers are followed by erect oval to cylindrical mahogany-colored capsules ¼ to ¾ inch long that contain very fine seeds that are dispersed when wind blows the capsules.

A flower scape emerges from the center of the basal rosette (L) with a terminal umbel with many flower buds (LC) that open in late spring (RC), with each flower pointing downward and the petals pointing upward (R).

Shooting star grows best in partial shade, but can tolerate full sun in cooler zones and full shade as long as the soil is moist (but not wet) in the spring. It tolerates clay soil, but prefers humusy, rocky or sandy, well-drained soils. Since it naturally dies back in summer, drought at that time does not affect it, but it does not need a dry dormant period like most of the western species do. Plant it where taller plants will not overtake it until later in the season. It is not favored by deer.

Shooting star interplanted with prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, WI.

Use shooting start in shady native plant or wildflower gardens, woodland garden or for naturalizing. It combines well with other native spring wildflowers including bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), trillium, twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), and woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata).

In ornamental gardens place shooting star near the front of beds.

In ornamental gardens place it near the front of beds and borders where the flowers can be easily viewed. It will grow up through some groundcovers, such as Vinca minor, or position them near other slower-developing plants that will cover up the senescing foliage later in the year.

Shooting star is propagated from seed or by division in fall when dormant. It can be difficult to grow from seed, which needs to be sown fresh in summer or stratified (moist or dry) over the winter. Seedlings grow very slowly, taking 3-4 years to flower.

There are a few cultivars or forms of D. meadia, as well as the white-flowered D. meadia f. album:

  • ‘Alba’ – has white flowers
  • ‘Aphrodite’ – has dark pink flowers with a yellow tip that are about twice the size of the species on larger, robust plants
  • ‘Goliath’ – grows larger flowers on taller scapes
  • ‘Queen Victoria’ – a floriferous selection with large light pink flowers with a wide yellow and white band at the base

Jeweled shooting star,
D. amethystinum.

D. meadia is very similar to the related, but less common (in Wisconsin, where it is found primarily in the southwestern counties on moist, shaded ledges and adjacent woods on north-facing slopes) amethyst shooting star or jeweled shooting star (D. amethystinum or Primula fassettii) which tends to have darker, reddish-purple flowers. This species is generally found in shadier locations than D. meadia and lacks a reddish tinge at the base of the foliage, but the two are best distinguished by the seed capsule, which is thin-walled, flexible, and light yellowish to reddish when dry in D. amethystinum while that of D. meadia is thick-walled and firm and a much darker reddish brown when mature.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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Environmental Studies

Dodecatheon meadia is a herbaceous perennial, native to eastern and central United States. The petals and cluster of yellow stamens converging to a point give the flower the appearance of a shooting star plummeting to earth.

Dodecatheon is Greek for “flower of the 12 gods.” This most likely refers to the belief that primroses (family Primulaceae) were under the care of the twelve superior gods of Olympus. The shooting star was named “Dodecatheon” by Linnaeus, perhaps because of the unusual form, elegance, and color of the flower.

Physical characteristics

Leaf | Stalk: The leaves are basal, smooth, on long stalks, and up to 8″ long and 3″ wide. The smooth flower stalk grows up to 2′ tall. At the top of the stalk is a whorl of small bracts, in which a spray of individually stalked flowers arise.

Flower | Seeds: The flowers have a unique shape – five stiffly recurved petals bend straight back from a protruding pistil. Five prominent stamens project from the center which are usually dark brown bases. These make a yellow beak; small red-brown dots are marked on the petals where they meet the stamens. Sometimes the flowers are pink or lavender rose; at other times they are white (as you will notice throughout this page). The small dark seeds are contained in seed capsules that are held erect.

Life span: Perennial.

Pollinators: Queen bumblebees are the most typical visitors of the oddly shaped flowers.

Ecological characteristics

This shooting star will grow well out in the open prairie, between railroad tracks and highways. In wooded hills, they tend to be more delicate and thin, with paler pink flowers than the prairie plants. The plant is also common in moist to dry prairies, savannahs, and rocky-hill prairies. The Dodecatheon Meadia is native to North America. It is found in the American South, as well as the Upper Midwest, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

Bloom season: Mid-late Spring; April-May.

Distribution range:

Importance to the ecosystem

Through various research it has been determined by the writers of this page, that the plant contributes no other significant factors to the ecosystem besides a few key details due to it’s rarity. It does contribute to the biodiversity of the ecosystem it’s in which is key to a wild ecosystem’s survival. It is a key part of the prairie ecosystem. It is also a main source of pollination and food for the queen bumblebee.

Relationship with other species

Non-human: There are various similarities in the flowers when compared to Cyclamen, another member of the Primulaceae family. The Shooting Star is also related to the Dodecatheon jeffreyii and Dodecatheon pulchellum.

Humans: There are no known medicinal uses for the plant. Although history states that the Native American may have used the plant to help aid women though pregnancy this has not been confirmed. As for relationships the plant is simply pleasant to look at and was worshipped by the greeks as a flower that was cared for by the gods.

Pests: No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage disappears and plant goes dormant in summer.

Other interesting facts…

  • The Dodeactheon meadia is the pride of Ohio.

  • They have a fragrance similar to the odor of grape juice.

  • The shooting star is often misidentified as the cranberry plant.

Voss, John and Eifert, Virginia S. Illinois Wild Flowers. Springfield, IL: Authority of the State of Illinois, 1951. Print.

http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/shootingstarx.htm

http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=DOME

http://www.sunfarm.com/picks/dodecatheonmeadiaalba-121459.phtml

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=DOME

Page drafted by Kassandra Morfin and Scott Straight

Plant of the Week

Dodecatheon alpinum range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Dodecatheon alpinum.

Dodecatheon alpinum. Photo by Gary A. Monroe.

Alpine Shooting Star (Dodecatheon alpinum)

By Robinson Sudan

Flowering from June to August, this member of the primrose family (Primulaceae) carries 1 to 10 pink to lavender flowers on an umbel that rises 10 to 35 centimeters from a basal rosette. Having 4 sepals, the new flowers point to the ground and gradually become more erect with age. The anthers are noticeably black.

As its common name implies, Dodecatheon alpinum is an alpine species. It grows in wet, semi-aquatic habitats of the mountains in the western states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and Oregon.

Though the species as a whole is not considered threatened, the majus subspecies has been given a T3 Vulnerable status according to the Encyclopedia of Life designation.

This plant is of special value to bumble bees and requires their ability to buzz-pollinate for successful pollination. Buzz-pollinations is a technique used by some bees, such as the Bombus morio and many other bumble bees, to release pollen which is more or less firmly held by the anthers.

For More Information

  • PLANTS Profile – Dodecatheon alpinum, alpine shooting star

Henderson’s Shootingstar

APPEARANCE

Also known as the magenta shooting star, this plant has broad, thick green leaves all joined to the same spot at the base of the plant. The flowers grow on long stems. They look like pink shooting stars, with five long petals swept back from the white center. Some say the flowers smell spicy. The plant grows to about 40 centimetres tall.

RANGE & HABITAT

Henderson’s shooting star is only found on southeast Vancouver Island but it also grows along the coast from Washington to California. It loves to grow in meadows and open woods, and often in rocky and warm areas. In B.C. this plant is found in the Georgia Depression ecoprovince.

LIFE CYCLE

The plant flowers in the spring and early summer. Then the flowers turn into seed capsules full of tiny black seeds.

ANIMAL USES

Shooting star is not an important food plant for animals but some, like deer, will graze on it. Bees really like it and are an important pollinator for the plant.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Shooting stars are a major plant in the garry oak meadows of southern Vancouver Island. These meadows were used by First Nations for harvesting other plant bulbs. The First Nations kept the large plants from taking over the meadows by burning them regularly. These burns also encouraged shooting stars, camas and other wildflowers to grow.

MODERN USES

Many gardeners plant shooting stars in dry areas because they are a beautiful garden flower.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

Henderson’s Shooting Star Fact Sheet

Photo: Patenaude

Yosemite Home ” Yosemite Wildflower Guide ” Pink & Peach Wildflowers ” Shooting Star

Shooting Star (Primula jeffreyi)

Aliases: Jeffrey’s Shooting Star, Sierra Shooting Star

Formerly Known As: Dodecatheon jeffreyi

Family: Primrose (Primulaceae)

If you round the corner of a trail to a see a meadow in front of you, and the meadow is such a vibrant pink that you have to dig out your welding goggles, chances are you’ve stumbled onto a colony of Shooting Star, one of the leading contributors to Yosemite meadow-beautification campaigns. Concentrated blooms of Shooting Star or its higher-elevation relative, Alpine Shooting Star (Primula tetrandra, formerly Dodecatheon alpinum), create eye-popping vistas that can make even otherwise pedestrian hikes like Lukens Lake memorable.

Blooms: June – August

Lifespan: Perennial

Origins: Native (see distribution maps for California and US/Canada)

Primula jeffreyi etymology: Primula is derived from the Latin term primus (first) because of its early blooming tendencies. Jeffreyi is a tribute to John Jeffrey (1826 – 1854?), a Scottish botanist who spent four years exploring the American west and discovered several new plant species, including this one and the Jeffrey Pine, before disappearing in 1854.

This Photo: In Wawona Meadow, early June

Other Resources: CalFlora · CalPhotos · USDA · eFloras.org

Shooting Star Flower Stock Photos and Images

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  • Shooting star flower (Dodecatheon) in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum flowers. Dark-throat shooting star flowers
  • Close up of Shooting Star (Dodecatheon conjugens) Blue Camas lily is blurred. Near Catherine Creek. Oregon
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • Shooting Star Flower, Great Basin Desert, Washington, USA
  • Close up of Shooting Star (Dodecatheon conjugens) Blue Camas lily is blurred. Near Catherine Creek. Oregon
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • Shooting Star Blooms @ Sunset Palmer Hay Flat AK SC Summer
  • shooting star flower, (Dodacatheon pulchellum) , Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • Purple shooting star flower in Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, CA
  • sierra shooting star wild flowers growing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • Hydrangea ‘Shooting Star’ close up of flower
  • Northern Shooting Star (Dodecatheon frigidum), flower, USA, Alaska
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • A macro closeup of a single Shooting Star flower in late spring at Eklutna Flats in Southcentral Alaska.
  • Shooting star flowers (Dodecatheon)
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom.
  • Few-Flowered Shooting Star against a blurred background
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom near Stanley, Idaho, USA.
  • Shooting star
  • Close-up of Shooting star (Dodecatheon) flower in Sinclair Canyon in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom near Stanley, Idaho, USA.
  • USA, California, Sierra Nevada Range. Shooting star flower close-up.
  • A closeup of pink Shooting Star flowers in a meadow near Lake Tahoe in California
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star flower in bloom near Stanley, Idaho, USA.
  • Slimpod shooting star (Dodecatheon conjugens), Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States of America, North America
  • A closeup of pink Shooting Star flowers in a meadow near Lake Tahoe in California
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum
  • Slimpod shooting star (Dodecatheon conjugens), Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States of America, North America
  • Reflexed pink petals of the early summer flowering hardy perennial shooting star, Dodecatheon pulchellum
  • A Shooting star, Dodecatheon alpinum flower and bud, Mount Eddy, California.
  • Shooting Star: Dodecatheon pauciflorum. Botranic garden, Surrey, UK.
  • Jeweled Shooting Star, Dodecatheon radicatum
  • Alpine shooting star, Dodecatheon alpinum in flower in high altitude marsh, Yosemite, Sierra Nevada.
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum Dark throat flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Jeweled Shooting Star, Dodecatheon radicatum
  • Alpine shooting star, Dodecatheon alpinum in flower in high altitude marsh, Yosemite, Sierra Nevada.
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum Dark throat flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Shooting Star flowers budding and blooming on a spring day
  • Dodecatheon meadia. Shooting Star. American cowslip flower. UK
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum Dark throat flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Darkthroat Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum), Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota, USA
  • Shooting stars, Sacramento River Bend Area of Critical Environmental Concern, California.
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum. Dark throat shooting star in flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Zion shooting star in bloom, Zion National Park, Utah.
  • Shooting star
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum. Dark throat shooting star in flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Zion shooting star in bloom, Zion National Park, Utah.
  • sierra shooting star flowers grow near a small waterfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum. Dark throat shooting star in flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Beautiful Frigid Shooting Star flowers blooming on the tundra of Nome, Alaska
  • Alaska, Eklutna Flats Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum. Dark throat shooting star in flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) – Corneille Bryan Native Garden – Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, USA
  • Alaska, Eklutna Flats Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)
  • Dodecatheon pulchellum. Dark throat shooting star in flower. Also called Pretty shooting star and Prairie shooting star.
  • Flowers of a spider type orchid Brassidium ‘Shooting Star’, pot grown house plant
  • Alaska, Eklutna Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) and False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina stellata)
  • Shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) basking in the spring sun on Kelgaya Point near Haines; Alaska, United States of America
  • Flowers of a spider type orchid Brassidium ‘Shooting Star’, pot grown house plant
  • Alaska, Eklutna Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) and False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina stellata)
  • Zion Shooting Star, Dodecatheon Pulchellum, Wildflowers, Weeping Rock, Zion National Park, Utah, USA
  • Jeffrey’s Shooting Star or Sierra Shooting Star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), flowering, Thuringia, Germany
  • Goetterblume – (Dt.Name unbekannt) / Northern Shooting Star – (Western Arctic Shootingstar) / Dodecatheon frigidum
  • Zion Shooting Star, Dodecatheon Pulchellum, Wildflowers, Weeping Rock, Zion National Park, Utah, USA
  • A group of springtime purple shooting star wildflowers growing in tall grass with a blurred background.
  • set natural plants with tropical fish and shooting star
  • Zion Shooting Star, Dodecatheon Pulchellum, Wildflowers, Weeping Rock, Zion National Park, Utah, USA
  • Shooting star in bloom, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.
  • Shooting Star Wildflower
  • Zion Shooting Star, Dodecatheon Pulchellum, Wildflowers, Weeping Rock, Zion National Park, Utah, USA
  • Shooting star in bloom, Wallowa – Whitman National Forest, Oregon.
  • Shooting Star Wildflower
  • Close up Henderson’s Shooting Star (Primula hendersonii), California
  • Shooting Star flowers in the snow
  • Shooting Star Wildflower
  • Close up Henderson’s Shooting Star (Primula hendersonii), California
  • Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia
  • Shooting Star Wildflower
  • Close up Henderson’s Shooting Star (Primula hendersonii) on a field of wildflowers background, California
  • Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia
  • Closeup of mauve and white wild Shooting Star flower and bud Catalina Island, California
  • Delicate white flowers of the shooting star, Dodecatheon dentatum
  • Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia brunnera
  • Dodecatheon ‘Shooting Star’
  • Pretty Shooting Star or Dark Throat Shooting Star (Docecatheon pulchellum), Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia), Hayden Prairie State Preserve, Howard County, Iowa
  • Prairie Flowers, Potato & Wheat sculpure (Shooting Star), Connell, Washington.
  • Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia), Hayden Prairie State Preserve, Howard County, Iowa
  • Prairie Flowers, Potato & Wheat sculpure (Shooting Star), Connell, Washington.
  • Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia), Hayden Prairie State Preserve, Howard County, Iowa
  • Shooting star (Dodecatheon) wildflower; Banff, Alberta, Canada
  • Shooting Star on Kodiak Island in Alaska
  • Example of a White Jeffreys Shooting Star, Vancouver Island, Canada
  • The white petals of dahlia shooting star growing in a british uk garden

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Until this month, I had never seen today’s featured wildflowers “in real life.” Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) is as eye-catching as last week’s wild chervil is unobtrusive. Also known as prairie shooting star or pride of Ohio, the plant is native to more than 20 states east of the Rocky Mountains, but it is rarely seen outside “high-quality habitats” including prairies, upland forests, and fens.

The Illinois Wildflowers and Minnesota Wildflowers websites have botanically accurate descriptions of shooting star foliage, flowers, and seed capsules. I took all of the enclosed pictures at Rochester Cemetery in Cedar County in early May. This never-plowed patch of prairie is well worth a special trip or at least a short detour if you’re traveling along nearby I-80.
According to Stephen Longmire’s book Life and Death on the Prairie,

Iowa’s Rochester Cemetery is one of the most unusual and biodiverse prairies left in America, boasting more than 400 species of plants—337 of them native to the region—on its thirteen-and-a-half acres. Among them are fifteen massive white oaks that stood watch as the surrounding landscape was converted into farmland after Euro-American settlers arrived in the 1830s. The cemetery is the last resting place of these pioneers and their descendants, down to the present. Graves and wildflowers are scattered across hills that geologists consider sand dunes; these are held in place by the deep roots of the plants and people.

Pioneer cemeteries have been recognized as important prairie remnants and seed banks ever since Aldo Leopold, another Iowa native, called attention to them in his landmark essays of the 1940s, as he developed the new field of ecological restoration. At Rochester Cemetery, the drama of the prairie’s survival continues to this day, in a controversy that flares up as reliably as spring’s shooting stars. To botanists across the country, this place is a pilgrimage site. To local residents, it is either a source of pride or a shameful weed lot (some feel regular mowing would show more respect for the dead).

I’d recommend bringing a prairie wildflower guide if you visit the cemetery. A weather-beaten notice board lists some of the native plants that bloom at different times of the year, but does not provide photos to help with identification.

Alma Gaul wrote for the Quad-City Times in 2011 that “People come in droves around Mother’s Day to see the spectacular shooting stars.”

I expected to have to hunt for this rare plant once I reached the cemetery, but a large colony was growing near the main entrance. You can see why early white settlers reportedly called these flowers “Prairie Pointers.”

Some of the plants still had only buds.

Others were starting to bloom.

Most were already in full flower. The blossoms range from white to many shades of pink. A related species, jeweled shooting star, can have even darker pink flowers.

I tried to capture the scale of this massive colony.

Several views of shooting star with Golden Alexanders, also rarely seen outside prairie habitats.

The yellow-orange flowers near the bottom of this picture are hoary puccoon, another relatively uncommon native plant.

The pale yellow spirals are wood betony.

Shooting star with wild geranium.

The bright sunlight didn’t help my cause in capturing the shooting star near wild geranium and Columbine.

These yellow flowers are some kind of buttercup, possibly swamp buttercup.

Because it was relatively early in the season, I didn’t see any shooting star with fruit growing, but some of these flowers were already past their prime.

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) is an herbaceous perennial named for the shape of its flowers and the flowers’ curved stems, which together look a bit like a shooting star with a tail following it through the sky.

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

Shooting Star blooms in spring over a period of several weeks. Each flower shoot produces multiple flowers, each flower with its own curved stem (or tail). The flowers can be white or pink.

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

If the flowers are pollinated, fruit capsules take their place and along with the leaves remain visible for many weeks in the summer.

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) fruit capsule

Shooting Star requires a partner with special skill to help achieve successful pollination, an insect with the athletic ability to hang from below the flower and vibrate its wing muscles without moving its wings, in order to shake pollen loose from the flower. This is called buzz pollination, because the vibration makes a buzzing sound. Queen Bumble Bees have this ability, and they are the perfect unsuspecting collaborator in Shooting Star’s pollination.

Queen Bumble Bee on Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

When a female Bumble Bee like the one shown here clings to a Shooting Star flower from below, her abdomen touches the plant’s stigma, the place on the pistil (female reproductive part) where pollen must be deposited if pollination is to take place. If pollen is present on the bee when she arrives at a flower, it will be brushed from her abdomen onto the flower’s stigma, possibly with some assistance from static electriciy. As the Bumble Bee clings to the flower she vibrates it, causing a dusting of pollen to be releases onto her abdomen. She then carries the pollen to the next flower she visits.

Queen Bumble Bee on Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia). The flower’s stigma is touching the bee’s abdomen. Notice the dusting of pollen that is beginning to accumulate.

Honey bees don’t have this special skill. Only native bees like Bumble Bees and some others are able to buzz pollinate. Blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers also require buzz pollination. If we didn’t have these bees, we wouldn’t have this food!

Shooting Star doesn’t produce nectar, so why would bees keep visiting these flowers? They don’t do it altruistically, they need some incentive. Bees visit the flowers for pollen, a food source high in the protein and lipids bees need. After she has visited enough flowers, the Bumble Bee will groom herself, eating some of the pollen and storing the rest on her legs to carry back to her nest to feed her larvae.

Queen Bumble Bee on Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia). She has collected pollen on her rear legs to take back to her nest to feed her larvae.

Other small bees may visit the flowers to harvest pollen, but because of the way these smaller bees handle the flowers, the chances are lower that they will encounter the stigma and deposit pollen.

Shooting Star is native in Manitoba in Canada, and much of the eastern half of the United States except the New England states, New Jersey and Delaware. It is most commonly found in some of the mid-western states. Shooting Star likes shade to part shade and can be found in open woods.

Resources

Spira, Timothy A. Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont. 2011.

Rhoads, Ann Fowler; Block, Timothy A. The Plants of Pennsylvania. 2007

Willmer, Pat. Pollination and Floral Ecology. 2011

Illinois Wildflowers

USDA Plant Database

Clerodendrum (Clerodendron) Quadriloculare

Starburst, Shooting Star

Striking, to say the least, Clerodendrum (Clerodendron) Quadriloculare is a fairly easy to grow evergreen shrub. Of the family Verbenaceae it is more commonly known as Starburst, Shooting Star or Glorybower. It requires no special care except for training and restraining. Starburst is a sub-tropical plant the family of which is native to Africa and Asia (Pacific Islands).

Click picture above for a closer view.

Plant Facts:

Common Name: Starburst, Shooting Star, Glorybower

Botanical Name: Clerodendrum (Clerodendron) Quadriloculare

Family: Lamiaceae

Plant Type: Evergreen Shrub

Origin: Africa, Asia (Pacific Islands)

Zones: 9 – 11

Height: 10′ or more

Rate of Growth: Fast

Salt Tolerance: Medium

Soil Requirements: Well drained, moist, fertile humus

Water Requirements: Water freely, less water in winter

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly

Light Requirements: Full sun to Partial shade

Form: Bush

Leaves: 6″ or longer — top dark green, bottom dark purple

Flowers: Pink and white, blooms January through February

Fruits: Inedible Berries

Pests: Whiteflies, mealybugs, aphids, common galls, cankers and leaf spots

Uses: Accent bush — show piece

Bad Habits: Invasive by suckering, severe pruning will bring on an outburst of suckers and shoots. Suggest keeping potted to prevent invasion. Clerodendrum (Clerodendron) Quadriloculare will spread — be sure you are ready for the consequences if you plant it in the ground.

*** A patented variety released by Morningstar Nursery called Dwarf Purple leaf ‘Morningstar’ grows to only about 6 feet. The leaves are smaller and ruffled, but produce more flower heads per plant. It is less aggressive and can be maintained as a pruned shrub or hedge without detracting from its performance

Cost: $$ — reasonable

Propagation: cuttings, suckers, seeds

Source: American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants

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