Dodecatheon, from dodeka, twelve, and theoi, gods; the twelve gods, a name given by Pliny to the Primrose, which was believed to be under the protection of the superior gods.

Perennial. A plant of cliffs, open woodlands and prairies. Pennsylvania to Manitoba, Georgia, California. Absent from northern Ohio, but reported from middle and southern Ohio. April, May.




All basal, oblong or spatulate, three to twelve inches long, narrowed into petioles.


Purplish pink or yellowish white, the cone tipped with yellow; few or several hanging on slender, recurved pedicels in an umbel at the top of a simple scape, six to twenty inches high.


Deeply five-parted.


Of five narrow lobes bent backward and upward; the tube very short, thickened at throat, and marked with dark reddish purple dots.


Five, united into a protruding cone.


One, extending beyond the stamens.


A five-valved capsule, standing erect.

Pollinated by bumblebees and butterflies. Nectar-bearing.

This curious name of Twelve Gods has an ancient lineage but little if any application to its present wearer. Linnaeus fancied he saw in the little group of unusual-shaped flowers a congress of tiny divinities seated around a miniature Olympus, and so gave to the plant the ancient name that nobody owned. The plant is chiefly of southern and western range and continental distribution.

The flowering stalk rises one to two feet from the cluster of oblong leaves which form a loose rosette. The blossoms, whose backward-turned petals suggest the ears of a frightened rabbit, are gathered into a loose terminal arrangement and hang from slender, curving stems which spring from the tip of the stalk.

Shooting Star. Dodecatheon Meadia

Shooting-Star. Dodecatheon Meadia

There is a large group of flowers of which the potato in our fields and the tomato in our gardens are common examples, with protruding cones made up of the united stamens so arranged, apparently, that the visiting insect which seeks the honey must jar out pollen from the end of the cone and receive it upon the under side of its body, the more surely to distribute it. This stamen cone is a very marked characteristic of the blossoms of Shooting-Star.