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Dodecatheon

Dodecatheon

Dodecatheon

Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star) is an herbaceous perennial boasting large umbels of 8-20 nodding, white, light pink, or rosy pink flowers, 1 in. long (2 cm), resembling cyclamen blooms. Each flower has 5 swept-back petals and a cluster of prominent yellow stamens that appear like wind-blown umbrellas. Once fertilized, the flowers turn skyward, hence their common name. Blooming in late spring for about a month, the charming blossoms are borne on upright, leafless, flower scapes that rise from a basal rosette of lance-shaped, pale green leaves. The entire plant dies down when summer arrives, although the dried up stalks persist somewhat longer. Dodecatheon meadia is one of the most beautiful spring wildflowers in the prairie. A colony of these plants in bloom is a sight to behold. A delightful addition to any garden.I discovered this species in 1980 along HWY 56 while surveying remnant prairies to identify what species were native to this part of Minnesota for restoration projects in the SEMN State Parks.The plants were already past bloom but I recognized the plant in the seed stage and called Welby Smith, MNDNR Botanist, to see if it was possible that shooting star would be found where I had found it. He was so excited that I had found it. He later confirmed that it was indeed Dodecatheon meadia. The find led to the creation of the Shooting Star Wildflower Route, Prairie Visions and Shooting Star Bike Trail. On 5/30/2020 shooting star was still in bloom in the right of way. It was a relief to see there were still many plants still there.While Prairie Shooting Star, known as Primula meadia in some references, is readily available in the nursery trade, it is a very rare sight in the wild in Minnesota with only a single known location in Mower County. According to the DNR, it was first discovered in a prairie strip along a railroad in 1980, but this lone population was nearly wiped out 10 years later after the railroad was abandoned and road construction and agricultural development ensued. The remaining population is very small and still at risk from pesticide drift from nearby fields and roadsides, unauthorized mowing, and even poaching. It was listed as a MN Special Concern species in 1984 and elevated to Endangered in 1996. It is nearly indistinguishable from the related and more common (in Minnesota) Jeweled Shooting Star (Dodecatheon amethystinum). While the flowers of D. meadia are typically lighter colored than D. amethystinum, the most reliable differences are the fruits, which are thin-walled, flexible, and dry to a light yellowish to reddish for D. amethystinum, and thick-walled, firm, and dry to a dark reddish brown for D. meadia. Habitat is also a good indicator, with D. amethystinum found in more shaded cliffs and forests, and D. meadia preferring more open ground.:

This species of Dodecatheon is found almost in every county in Oregon, and generally is widespread throughout the region. This is the Shooting Star of more open, sunny areas and drier woodlands. In the wild it is often found along seepages and other areas that give abundant springtime moisture followed by necessary dry conditions in summer, when theDodecatheon poeticum is dormant. The flowers (generally 5) cluster at the top of the slender flowering stem, but this one is shorter, rising only 2-10” above the leaves.Adding to the complexity is the need to observe the valvate or operculate dehiscence of the capsule, and the degree of firmness of the capsule wall. Dehiscence of the capsule is clearly valvate in some species (e.g., Dodecatheon pulchellum) with no hint of a line of separation. In other species (e.g., D. jeffreyi), the capsule opens on a transverse line near the top of the fruit, shedding a cap (operculum) often with an intact style. There are specimens that have both valvate and operculate dehiscence even on the same plant (e.g., D. clevelandii). The distinction is further complicated by the "line of separation," which is often distinguished by the distal portion of the capsule being a darker color and also, (in some) glandular. The operculum may consist of little more than the base of the style and may be well apical of the "line" that is indicative of the depth to which the capsule will split into five, ten, or more toothlike segments. With age, the (usually) inwardly curved teeth shed the operculum and then fall away resulting in what appears to be a toothless, circumscissile capsule. In contrast, valvate capsules develop teeth at the apex of the fruit, resulting (often) in a splitting of the style into parts. With age, the (usually) outwardly curved teeth shed the fragments of the style. The teeth usually remain attached to the body of valvate capsules; sometimes they are shed, resulting in what appears to be a toothless, circumscissile capsule. (Source: www.efloras.org)

 

 

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