"Dodecatheon". Flower of the Twelve Gods, said Pliny when he told of the primrose, which was believed to be under the care of the twelve superior gods of Olympus. A member of the Primrose family, the shooting star, was narned Dodecatheon by Linnaeus, perhaps because of the unusual form and color of the flower, the regal elegance of the plant.
Dodecatheon meadia L.
April - May Prairies, wooded bills.
For shooting-star i- one of the truly aristocratic plants of the llli-nois springtime. It springs from a tuft of long, strap-like, pale green leaves with pink midribs forming a compact base from which rise one or several stiff green or ruddy stems. At the top of these i- a cluster of buds which, as they reach flowering time, stand on slender arching -ictus so thai the flower cluster does not appear- crowded. The flowers have a unique shape, much like that of the cultivated cyclamen - five stiffly recurved petals bent straight hack from a protruding pistil and the closely pressed-together stamens. These make a yellow beak; small red-brown dots are marked on the petals where they meet the stamens. Sometimes the flowers are pink or lavender-rose; at other times they are white.
Shooting-star, unlike many plants which demand either sun or shade. but seldom both, will grow equally well out on the open prairie, there between the railroad tracks and the highway, along with wild hyacinth and puccoon, as it does on the cool, moist, clay slope of a north hill. The plants on the wooded hills tend to be more delicate and thin, with paler pink flowers than the prairie plant-. These are stout and lush to withstand the force of prairie wind and an April sun which even bo early in the season can be strong when its beams are uninterrupted by the presence of trees.