Dodecatheon amethystinum (Jeweled Shooting Star)

Plant Info
Also known as: Amethyst Shooting Star
Family:Primulaceae (Primrose)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist north-facing slopes, limestone cliffs in hardwood forests
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:4 to 18 inches
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] A single cluster of up to 10 (rarely more) hanging, long-stalked, rose-purple to pink blossoms (rarely white) at the tip of a smooth, slender stem. Petals are fused at the base into a downward facing tube with a wavy ring of maroon, yellow and white around the base. 5 rounded oblong lobes, 1/3 to ¾ inch long, are folded tightly back against the tube and are sometimes a bit twisted. Slender, yellowish stamens are tightly pressed against a single, long purplish style projecting from the center. The arching stalk of each flower has long, glandular hairs near the the flower. Flowers become erect after pollination.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal, oval-elliptic to lance-oblong, 1½ to 9½ inches long, ½ to 3 inches wide, hairless and toothless, rounded at the tip and tapering to a short winged stalk. The leaf base may be tinged red. Flowering stems are multiple from the base, hairless and green to purple.


[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is an erect, oval to cylindric capsule ¼ to 2/3 inch long, the five lance-shaped calyx lobes around the base and the slender style still attached at the tip but eventually disintegrating. The capsule is thin-walled and dries to a light yellowish to reddish brown.


Jeweled Shooting Star's North American range is severely restricted to the limestone hills and valleys of the mid-west driftless region, with a disjunct population in the Appalachians. Very little distinguishes it visually from the more common and widespread (in its North American range) D. meadia, which is found in drier wooded and open prairie habitats, blooms two weeks earlier, has thick-walled seed capsules that dry to dark reddish brown, and is typically white to less frequently pink or lilac. Some references make note of reddish (or not) leaf bases being a distinguishing characteristic but we have not found that to be reliable in the field—habitat and ripe fruit are the more consistent differences. Also similar is D. pulchellum, a western species not found in Minnesota. In Minnesota D. amethystinum is a tracked species while, D. meadia is listed as endangered. Both perform handsomely in a home garden setting.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Goodhue County and a private garden in Anoka County. Photos courtesy Joe Fierst taken at Zumbro Valley SNA. Photos courtesy Beth Gauper and Torsten Muller taken at Perrot State Park, Wisconsin.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Dale - Zumbro Falls SNA
on: 2014-06-01 12:50:48

Flowers were up on the peak of the north facing slope above the Zumbro river on May 25th. I've been calling this Meadia. White variety up as well but only in a small section further east along the next bluff.

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