Plants - Native Plants and Wildflowers

Natural selection: Dodecatheon

These delicate beauties take three years to flower from seed, but their blooms are well worth the wait!

Common shootingstar (Dodecatheon meadia)
* Zone 3
Native to Manitoba and the eastern U.S.

Also known as the American cowslip, three species of Dodecatheon are native to the eastern half of North America, while the remaining 11 are indigenous to the west. D. meadia, named after Richard Mead (1673-1754), physician to George II and wildflower enthusiast, is the form most frequently found in gardens; northern populations tend to have lavender to magenta-coloured flowers, while those from the south are usually white.

Often grouped with the spring ephemerals, DodeĀ­catheon species and cultivars bloom from mid-spring to early summer, typically becoming dormant by midsummer. They take three years to flower from seed, and should be sited in rich, moist soil in partly shaded conditions.

Fast fact: Dodecatheon plants should never be gathered from the wild: In many regions, they are listed as endangered or extirpated. Be on the lookout for these beauties:

White shootingstar (Dodecatheon dentatum)

* Zone 5
* Native from British Columbia to New Mexico

Mosquito bills (D. hendersonii)
* Zone 7
* Native from British Columbia to California

Sierra shootingstar (D. jeffreyi)

* Zone 4
* Native from Alaska to California

Darkthroat shootingstar (D. pulchellum)
* Zone 2
* Native from northern Canada to New Mexico

Want more information on native plants?
Evergreen, a national charity that makes cities more liveable, has a comprehensive Native Plant Database.

Shot on location at Wildflower Farm.

Read more in Plants and Native Plants and Wildflowers

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