prairie shooting star

(Primula meadia)

Conservation Status
prairie shooting star
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

S1 - Critically Imperiled



Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Prairie shooting star is a 8 to 24 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from fibrous, slightly thickened roots. The roots produce a rosette of basal leaves and one or more flowering stalks.

There is no central stem.

The leaves are all basal. They are oblong or oblong lance-shaped, 2 to 8 long, but usually no longer than 4, and ¾ to 2½ wide. They are rounded or blunt at the tip, taper gradually to the leaf stalk, and are reddish at the base and along the single, conspicuous midvein. The margins are untoothed. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless.

The inflorescence is an umbel of 4 to 25 flowers at the end of a leafless, hairless, flowering stalk (scape).

The flowers are to 1 long and hang downward at the end of 1½ long, arching flower stalks. The corolla is white, light pink, or rosy pink, rarely magenta, with a yellow band and maroon spots near the base. Most populations in the northern part of the species’ range have white flowers. Most populations in the north have flowers tinged with pink, rosy pink, or magenta. The petals are bent back strongly near the base and are held mostly erect. There are 5 stamens with anthers fused into a cone-shaped tube. There is no floral scent.

The fruit is an egg-shaped, dark reddish-brown capsule, ¼ to long, less than 3 times as long as wide, with many seeds. The wall of the capsule is thick and firm. The capsule does not split at the bottom.




8 to 24


Flower Color


White, light pink, or rosy pink, rarely magenta


Similar Species


Jeweled shooting star (Primula fassettii) petals are mostly deep rose-purple or pink, rarely white. The wall of the capsule is thin and flexible.


Dry to wet. Prairies, woods. Full sun.




April to June


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 28, 29, 30.

The two sightings in Carver County (light green on the map) are both from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where it is not “outside of cultivation.”








Rare in Minnesota

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Ericales (heathers, balsams, primroses, and allies)  


Primulaceae (primroses)  
  Subfamily Primuloideae  
  Tribe Primuleae  


Primula (primroses)  
  Subgenus Auriculastrum  
  Section Dodecatheon (shooting stars)  

Species in the section Dodecatheon were formerly placed in the genus Dodecatheon. Based on morphology, on cell structure, and on molecular phylogenetic studies, the genus was transferred intact in 2007 to the genus Primula, subgenus Auriculastrum, as the new section Dodecatheon. The transfer made Primula monophyletic and valid, where it had previously been paraphyletic and invalid. The transfer has been widely but not universally accepted.


Subordinate Taxa


Some authorities, including USDA PLANTS and World Flora Online, recognize two subspecies. Of these, only the nominate subspecies, ssp. meadia, occurs in Minnesota. The range of the two types overlap throughout their entire range. There is so much intergradation between the separating characteristics that it is difficult or impossible to confidently assign a subspecies to most specimens. For these reasons, most authorities, including ITIS, GRIN, Flora of North America (FNA), and Plants of the World Online, do not recognize any subspecies.




Dodecatheon hugeri

Dodecatheon meadia ssp. meadia

Dodecatheon meadia var. obesum

Dodecatheon meadia var. standfieldii


Common Names


American cowslip

bird’s bill

common shooting star

darkthroat shooting star

eastern shooting star

prairie rooster bill

prairie shooting star

pride of Ohio


shooting star













A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster.



A flat-topped or convex, umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

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    prairie shooting star      


    prairie shooting star   prairie shooting star  
    prairie shooting star      



  Dodecatheon meadia
Susanne Wiik
  Dodecatheon meadia  

Flekkgudeblom, Shooting star

  Shooting Star
  Shooting Star  
  Dodecatheon meadia SHOOTING STAR
Frank Mayfield
  Dodecatheon meadia SHOOTING STAR  



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Other Videos
  Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptans) and Midland Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

Uploaded on Jun 4, 2010 - It's early May at Prairie Moon Nursery and Jacob's Ladder and Midland Shooting Star are in bloom!

  Shooting Stars in Bloom

Published on Jun 5, 2012

Earthyman views Midland Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon meadii) in bloom in Wisconsin. This prairie planting was planted by Ion Exchange, Inc several years ago.




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