This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, twelve gods, old name of no application here). Primulaceae. Shooting-Star. American Cowslip. Small perennial herbs with cyclamen-shaped flowers on scapes, sometimes grown in wild or hardy gardens.
Fig. 1338. Dodecatheon Meadia, the common shooting-star. (X 1/4)
Glabrous, with a tuft of ovate or oblong entire or dentate leaves at the base, and a slender single naked scape: flowers few or many in an umbel, nodding, white, rose or purple; corolla-lobes (5) and calyx reflexed; stamens 5, attached in the throat of the short corolla-tube, the short filaments more or less conjoined at base and the long slender anthers connivent into a cone: fruit an oblong or somewhat cylindrical 5- or 6-valved caps. - Dodecatheon is a puzzling genus to systematic botanists. It is found from Maine to Texas and from the Atlantic to the Pacific; and along the Pacific slope, from the islands of Lower Calif, to those of Bering Strait. In this vast region, it varies immensely. It is also found in Asia, especially northeastward. This wonderful distribution and variability is all the more remarkable if, as Gray once thought, it is all one species, because monotypic genera are considered, as a rule, to be comparatively inflexible or invaria-le. Pax & Knuth, on the other hand (Engler's Pflanzenreich, hft. 22, 1905), recognize 30 species. There is singular lack of agreement in the characterization of accepted species.
Dodecatheon belongs to the same family with Primula and Cyclamen, but in a different tribe from the former, while its reflexed corolla-lobes distinguish it from most genera of its family. Many species and varieties may be expected to appear in the fists of dealers in native plants.
Shooting-star is an appropriate name. The flowers have been compared to a diminutive cyclamen, for they are pendulous and seem to be full of motion (see Fig. 1338). The stamens in D. Meadia and all eastern species come to a sharp point and seem to be shooting ahead, while the petals fall behind like the tail of a comet. The flowers represent every shade from pure white, through lilac and rose, to purple, and they all have a yellow circle in the middle, i.e., at the mouth of the corolla. After the flowers are-gone the pedicels become erect. Some forms have all their parts in fours. There are a number of good horticultural forms offered abroad.
They require an open well-drained soil, not too dry, and moderately rich, and a shady or partially shady position. They are propagated by division or by seeds, the latter method being rather slow.
Meadia, Linn. (D. elttpticum, Nutt. Meadia Dodeca-thea, Crantz. M. Dodecatheon, Mill. M. caroliniana, Kuntze). Fig. 1338. Erect and strong, to 2 ft.: leaves ovate-oblong or oblong-linear, nearly or quite obtuse, dentate-crenate or nearly entire, 1-2 in. wide, tapering into a more or less margined petiole: scape smooth, usually purple-spotted; flowers 10-20; calyx deeply parted, the parts lanceolate; corolla-lobes linear-oblong, somewhat obtuse, rose-colored and whitish at base; anthers reddish yellow, the connective body purple and broadly ovate: caps, scarcely longer than calyx, with persistent style. May, June. Woods and prairies, Pa., W. and S. B.M. 12. - This species runs into many forms, some of which may be specifically distinct. variety splendidum, Hort., is an improved form, crimson with a yellow circle. variety giganteum, Hort., is larger in all its parts: leaves paler: flowers somewhat earlier, in some forms white. variety elegans, Hort. Leaves wider and shorter than the type: scape shorter; flowers more numerous, dark-colored. (The old generic name Meadia commemorates Dr. Richard Mead, 1673-1754.)
Jeffreyi, Van Houtte (Meadia Jeffreyi, Kuntze). Plant somewhat glandular-viscid: rhizome vertical and short, strong: leaves oblanceolate, erect, entire, somewhat acute, mucronulate: scape 12-24 in. or more, bearing a many-flowered umbel; calyx-lobes lanceolate; corolla deep red-purple; connective-body of anthers very narrow or subulate at apex, colored same as stamens. Mts., Calif, and Ore. F.S. 16:1662.
Suksdorf, has the general aspect of D, Jeffreyi, but the leaves are ampler and relatively broader: roots, as in D. Jeffreyi, are abundant, fleshy, fibrous, persistent: roots, leaves and scapes form a short, vertical crown: whole plant glabrous: corolla purplish, with a yellow ring near the base; segments and stamens usually only 4: caps, circumscissile very near the apex. Mts., Wash, and Ore.
Cham. & Schlecht. Plant 1 ft. or less: leaves obovate to ovate or oblong, acutish, entire or somewhat dentate: scape much exceeding the leaves, 2-3-flowered; calyx-lobes longer than the tube; corolla-lobes oblong-linear, violet: caps, oblong, twice longer than calyx. Bering Strait to Rockies and Sierras. B.M. 5871.
Elmer (D. dentatum, Hook. D. Meadia variety latilobum, Gray). Larger than the last: leaves with blade 1-4 in. long, oval or ovate to oblong, repand or sparingly dentate, abruptly contracted into long-winged petioles, obtuse: flowers 2-4; calyx-lobes deltoid; corolla-lobes oblong, yellowish white: caps, but little longer than calyx, opening from the apex by valves. Wash., Ore., Idaho.
Hendersonii, Gray. About a foot high, glabrous, deep green: leaves small, obovate or elliptic, 1 in. or more long, narrowed to a short petiole: flowers rather few; calyx-lobes triangular, acuminate, twice exceeding the tube; corolla-lobes dark purple with a yellow base, the stami-nal tube dark purple; anthers oblong, obtuse, short-apiculate; connective-body deep purple: caps, ovoid, much exceeding the calyx, dehiscent by a circumscissile apex and splitting into 10 valves. Calif, to Wash. G. 33:391.
Clevelandii, Greene. One to 1 1/2 ft. tall, glabrous: leaves pale green, thickish, spatulate-ovate, petioled: flowers 2-10; calyx-lobes ovate-lanceolate, acute, glandular; corolla-lobes purple with yellow base and a few purple spots in throat; anthers purple, the connective-body yellow: caps, oblong, circumscissile at apex. Feb. - May. S. Calif. - Flowers said to vary to pure white. Fragrant.
Greene. Glabrous:-root short and corm-like with fibrous rootlets: leaves 3-5, thin, light green, oblong-spatulate, crenate or nearly entire, blade attenuate into petiole of about equal length: flowers 3-5 or more on a stout scape 8-16 in. tall; calyx-lobes lanceolate, about as long as the tube; corolla pinkish or bluish violet, the lobes oblong-linear and erect-spreading; staminal tube short; anthers purple, acute: caps, narrow-ovate, only slightly surpassing calyx-lobes. April. Wyo. to New Mex. - Recommended for alpine and rock-gardens. L H. B.†