The green links below add additional plants to the comparison table. Blue links lead to other Web sites.
enable glossary links

darkthroat shooting star, few-flower shootingstar


Habit Plants (2–)10–45(–60) cm; scape usually glabrous, sometimes glandular-pubescent or -puberulent. Plants 10–50 cm; scape mostly glabrous.

not obvious at anthesis;

roots white;

bulblets absent.

not obvious at anthesis;

roots whitish to tan or brownish;

bulblets absent.


(2–)4–25(–48) × 0.3–6(–8.5) cm;

petiole ± winged, sometimes wingless near base;

blade oblanceolate to spatulate or ovate to nearly oval, base decurrent onto stem, usually gradually tapering to petiole, margins usually entire, rarely slightly toothed, sometimes undulate, surfaces glabrous or glandular-pubescent.

8–30 × 2–8 cm;

petiole winged;

blade (usually suffused with red at base even when dry), usually oblanceolate to oblong or spatulate, rarely ovate, base decurrent onto stem, gradually tapering to petiole, margins usually entire, rarely coarsely toothed, surfaces glabrous.



bracts lanceolate, 2–15 mm, glabrous or glandular-pubescent or -puberulent.


bracts lanceolate, 3–10 mm, usually glabrous, rarely glandular-pubescent.


(0.7–)1–5(–7) cm, glabrous or glandular-pubescent or -puberulent.

(1.5–)3–7 cm, usually glabrous, rarely glandular-pubescent.


calyx green, usually purple-flecked, 4–8 mm, glabrous or glandular-pubescent or -puberulent, tube 1.5–4 mm, lobes 5, 1–6 mm;

corolla tube maroon or yellow (fading to white) with reddish to magenta, thin, wavy ring, ring rarely absent, lobes 5, usually magenta to lavender, rarely white, (5–)7–20 mm;

filaments connate, tube yellow or maroon to dark purple or black, 0.7–3.6 × 1–3 mm;

anthers 3–8.5 mm;

pollen sacs dark maroon to black (at least apically) or yellow (at least apically), usually with some pink, reddish, or maroon speckles or lines dorsally, connective maroon to black or yellow, smooth or longitudinally wrinkled;

stigma not enlarged compared to style.

calyx light green to green, 5–12 mm, glabrous, tube 2–3.8 mm, lobes 5, (2.5–)3–7(–9) mm;

corolla tube maroon and yellow with dark maroon, ± thick, wavy ring, lobes 5, white or lavender to magenta, (10–)12–25(–27) mm;

filaments usually connate, tube yellow, 0.5–3 × 1–2 mm;

anthers (4–)5.5–10 mm;

pollen sacs yellow, sometimes speckled with red or maroon, connective purple, dark maroon, or black, smooth;

stigmas not enlarged compared to style.


tan to light brown, often reddish brown apically, sometimes speckled with red or maroon, valvate, cylindric-ovoid, 5–14(–20) × 3–5(–7) mm, glabrous or glandular-pubescent;

walls thin, pliable.

dark reddish brown, valvate, cylindric-ovoid, 7–18(–21) × 4–6(–9) mm, glabrous;

walls thick, firm.


without membrane along edges.

without membrane along edges.


= 88.

Dodecatheon pulchellum

Dodecatheon meadia

Phenology Flowering spring–early summer.
Habitat Moist or dry hardwoods, prairies, and limestone slopes and cliff faces
Elevation 30-1000(-1600) m (100-3300(-5200) ft)
from FNA
AK; AZ; CA; CO; ID; MT; ND; NE; NM; NV; OR; SD; UT; WA; WY; AB; BC; MB; NT; SK; YT; nw Mexico
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

Varieties 7 (7 in the flora).

The variation within Dodecatheon pulchellum is substantial and, for the most part, each of the entities recognized here seems distinct although nearly all break down in one or more features; most seem to have intergraded with other entities in the past. Variety pulchellum is the most widespread and remains, even as treated here, quite variable. The depauperate, often uniflorous, high-elevation form, var. watsonii, is included in var. pulchellum; there is no difference except in overall size even on the East Humboldt and Ruby mountains of northeastern Nevada, the type location of var. watsonii. Widely disjunct populations assigned to var. monanthum remain problematic. The plants of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon differ only slightly from those found elsewhere in Oregon, including the Blue Mountains, where the type of var. monanthum was obtained. The southern Utah expression, while similar morphologically, displays a biogeographic pattern that is unique. A better understanding of the variation between the western and eastern phases of var. monanthum is needed.

The coastal var. macrocarpum has consistent morphological differences and a higher ploidy level (2n = 88, 132) compared with the more inland var. pulchellum (2n = 44). Whether or not the ploidy level difference is consistent remains to be shown.

The arid forms of Dodecatheon pulchellum exhibit remarkable morphological differences that require recognition (J. L. Reveal 2005). Hanging garden plants in Utah are recognized as var. zionense, following N. H. Holmgren (2005). Some populations assigned to this variety may ultimately prove to be merely large-leaved plants of either var. pulchellum or the Utah phase of var. monanthum. Zion shootingstar may owe both its large leaves and its glandular-puberulent pedicels and calyces to hybridization with D. redolens sometime in its evolutionary past, even though the latter taxon is no longer close geographically. Variety shoshonense, usually growing in moist, alkaline meadows, is found mainly in the northern Mojave Desert and the Intermountain West. The color pattern associated with the stamens differs from most other varieties of the species, suggesting a fundamental change associated with pollination and likely a closer relationship to var. cusickii (which also has yellow pollen sacs) than to var. pulchellum.

This taxon inadvertently was named Dodecatheon puberulum (Nuttall) Nuttall three years before the establishment of Exinia pulchella. To avoid nomenclatural disruptions, the basionym D. meadia var. puberulum Nuttall has been proposed for rejection (J. L. Reveal and K. N. Gandhi 2008).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Dodecatheon meadia is widespread and highly variable. Many segregate species and infraspecific entities have been proposed. Except for recognizing D. frenchii (a diploid), partitioning D. meadia (a tetraploid) into finer units as done by N. C. Fassett (1944) is unrealistic. It has been traditional to distinguish at least two varieties. The typical variety is mainly a plant of the north and east with anthers 6.5–10 mm, capsules 10–18(–21) mm, calyx lobes 4–8 mm, and corolla lobes 12–20 mm. To the south and west (mainly Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, and Arkansas to northwest Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia) plants with anthers 4–7(–8) mm, capsules 7–10 mm, calyx lobes 3–5 mm, and corolla lobes 10–15 mm occur; these have been termed var. brachycarpum. A distinction is not made here because both entities are sometimes found growing together, and each can be found, often as individual plants, well outside its expected range. Flower color varies in a different pattern. Most of the southern populations of D. media have white petals; those of the north (including the Linnaean type) have lavender to magenta petals. Throughout the range, petals are sometimes more pinkish or are white with a tinge of purple. In southern Missouri and northern Arkansas are plants with alabaster white petals. All too often, a single population will vary in petal color, making a taxonomic distinction dubious. Plants with ovoid capsules 9–10 × 4–9 mm occur in Alabama; these were named var. obesum Fassett. Although the ovoid condition appears to be restricted geographically, it is doubtful that it diagnoses a well-marked variety.

Dodecatheon meadia is locally common in some areas; on its geographical edges, it is often rare and thus of local concern to some state heritage programs. The species is commonly cultivated and numerous cultivars have been developed.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Pollen sacs usually maroon to black, if yellow, plants of the Great Plains in Canada or in the Colorado River basin with relatively large leaves and minutely glandular pedicels and calyces
→ 2
1. Pollen sacs usually yellow, at least apically; usually not of the Great Plains in Canada or if in the Colorado River basin then pedicels and calyces not minutely glandular
→ 4
2. Filament tubes usually maroon to black, sometimes yellow basally.
var. monanthum
2. Filament tubes yellow, sometimes yellow basally and maroon distally
→ 3
3. Leaves (3-)4-17(-25) × 0.5-2.5(-4.5) cm; pedicels and calyces usually glabrous; common.
var. pulchellum
3. Leaves (8-)10-48 × 1.5-8.5 cm; pedicels and calyces minutely glandular; rare.
var. zionense
4. Plants glabrous
→ 5
4. Plants glandular, glandular-puberulent, or glandular-pubescent
→ 6
5. Anthers (4.5-)5-8.5 mm; leaves (3-)5-20(-35) × (0.5-)1.5-5 cm, blade elliptic or narrowly ovate to ovate; corolla tubes yellow; pollen sacs with pink to maroon speckles or lines abaxially; coastal or inland coastal montane regions and adjacent eastern valleys.
var. macrocarpum
5. Anthers 3.5-5 mm; leaves 4-15(-22) × 0.5-3.5 cm, blade oblanceolate to elliptic or spatulate; corolla tubes yellow or white; pollen sacs yellow (not speckled or lined); moist, inland, alkaline meadows.
var. shoshonense
6. Plants sparsely glandular-puberulent; pedicels and calyces usually glandular, sometimes sparsely glandular-puberulent; wc South Dakota and ne Wyoming.
var. distolum
6. Plants densely glandular-pubescent or -puberulent; pedicels and calyces usually densely glandular, sometimes glandular-puberulent; s British Columbia s to Oregon, e to w Montana and nw Wyoming
var. cusickii
Source FNA vol. 8, p. 279. FNA vol. 8, p. 286.
Parent taxa Primulaceae > Dodecatheon Primulaceae > Dodecatheon
Sibling taxa
D. alpinum, D. amethystinum, D. austrofrigidum, D. clevelandii, D. conjugens, D. dentatum, D. ellisiae, D. frenchii, D. frigidum, D. hendersonii, D. jeffreyi, D. meadia, D. poeticum, D. redolens, D. subalpinum, D. utahense
D. alpinum, D. amethystinum, D. austrofrigidum, D. clevelandii, D. conjugens, D. dentatum, D. ellisiae, D. frenchii, D. frigidum, D. hendersonii, D. jeffreyi, D. poeticum, D. pulchellum, D. redolens, D. subalpinum, D. utahense
Subordinate taxa
D. pulchellum var. cusickii, D. pulchellum var. distolum, D. pulchellum var. macrocarpum, D. pulchellum var. monanthum, D. pulchellum var. pulchellum, D. pulchellum var. shoshonense, D. pulchellum var. zionense
Synonyms Exinia pulchella D. meadia var. brachycarpum, Primula meadia
Name authority (Rafinesque) Merrill: J. Arnold Arbor. 29: 212. (1948) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 144. 1753 ,
Web links