Shooting Star, Dodecatheon meadia

Shooting Star

Dodecatheon meadia

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Samd
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Pink, White, Lavender
Fragrance: No
Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Description

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) is a much beloved wildflower that typically occurs in open woods and glades, rocky wooded slopes, bluff ledges, meadows and prairies. This is one of the most beautiful spring wildflowers in the prairie. A colony of these plants in bloom is a sight not to be missed. From each basal rosette of lance-shaped leaves come 1-4 sturdy, leafless, center flower scapes rising to 20 inches tall. Atop each flower scape is an umbel containing 8-20, nodding, 1 inch long flowers. Each flower has five swept-back petals and a cluster of yellow stamens converging to a point, thus giving the flower the appearance of a shooting star plummeting to earth. Flower colors are quite variable, ranging from white to pink to light purple.

The blooming period occurs during late spring and lasts about a month. The entire plant dies down when summer arrives, although the dried up stalks persist somewhat longer. The small dark seeds are contained in seed capsules that are held erect (unlike the flowers). They are somewhat cylindrical, but taper at the ends. Gusts of wind shake the stalks holding the seed capsules; this can carry the seeds several feet away. The root system is fibrous. Over time, offsets can slowly develop.

Habitats include moist to slightly dry black soil prairies, hill prairies, openings in rocky upland forests, limestone glades, bluffs along major rivers, fens, and abandoned fields. An occasional wildfire during the late summer or fall is beneficial because it reduces the dead vegetation that can smother this plant during the spring.

The preference is full or partial sun, and moist to slightly dry soil. Shooting Star can thrive on dry sunny slopes if there is sufficient rainfall during the spring because it dies down before summer droughts arrive. The soil can consist of loam with lots of organic material, or contain some rocky material. There is a preference for slopes, which reduces competition from taller plants. The foliage of mature plants dies down before disease can affect it. Shooting Star can be difficult to start from seed because of damping off, and it is slow to develop because of the short period of active growth. Transplants can also be temperamental, particularly if they are too small, or dug into the ground after the cool rainy weather of spring.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Propagate by division.
  Dig the mature crowns in the fall when dormant, then divide and replant.
  Bumble bees are the chief pollinators.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries