Wildflower of the Moment: Shooting Stars

Ashley Wolff wrote to Bernalwood recently with another update on what’s blooming right now:

Scattered on the steepest part of the Hill’s north slope is a member of the primrose family called the Shooting Star. Shooting star describes the flower shape: the stamens lead the way and the petals stream back like the tail of a shooting star.

The Latin name, Dodecatheon, is from the Greek “dodeca” meaning twelve, and “theos” meaning god– a fanciful name given by Pliny to a primose protected by the gods. The 12 gods referred to being: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hermes.

Dodecatheon  has an interesting pollination scheme: Pollen release occurs when pollen-collecting bumblebees visit the flowers and rapidly vibrate their ‘indirect flight muscles’ at a high frequency, causing the plant’s anthers to forcefully release a cloud of pollen into the air and onto the bee.

The flowers of the Shooting Star have been used both to attract men, and to help children sleep.

Photo: Ashley Wolff

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