Dodecatheon meadia (Prairie Shooting Star)

Plant Info
Also known as: Pride-of-Ohio
Family:Primulaceae (Primrose)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Endangered
Habitat:part shade, sun; average to dry soil; open prairie, savanna, hillsides, open woods, outcrops, railroads
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:8 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] A single cluster of 6 to 40 (rarely more) nodding, long-stalked, rose-pink to lavender to white blossoms at the tip of a smooth, slender stem. Petals are fused at the base into a downward facing tube with wavy rings of pinkish-purple, white, yellow and maroon around the base. 5 rounded oblong lobes, ½ to 1 inch long, are folded tightly back against the tube and are sometimes a bit twisted. Slender, yellowish to purplish stamens are tightly pressed against a single, long purplish green style projecting from the center. The arching stalk of each flower is usually smooth, rarely glandular hairy. Flowers become erect after pollination.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal, oval-elliptic to lance-oblong, 1½ to 12 inches long, ½ to 3 inches wide, hairless and toothless, rounded at the tip and tapering to a short winged stalk. Flowering stems are single or multiple from the base, hairless and green to purple.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of mature fruit] Fruit is an erect, oval to cylindric capsule ¼ to nearly ¾ inch long, the five lance-shaped calyx lobes around the base and the slender style still attached at the tip but eventually disintegrating. The capsule is thick-walled and dries to a dark reddish brown.


While Prairie Shooting Star, known as Primula meadia in some references, is readily available in the nursery trade, it is a very rare sight in the wild in Minnesota with only a single known location in Mower County. According to the DNR, it was first discovered in a prairie strip along a railroad in 1980, but this lone population was nearly wiped out 10 years later after the railroad was abandoned and road construction and agricultural development ensued. The remaining population is very small and still at risk from pesticide drift from nearby fields and roadsides, unauthorized mowing, and even poaching. It was listed as a MN Special Concern species in 1984 and elevated to Endangered in 1996. It is nearly indistinguishable from the related and more common (in Minnesota) Jeweled Shooting Star (Dodecatheon amethystinum). While the flowers of D. meadia are typically lighter colored than D. amethystinum, the most reliable differences are the fruits, which are thin-walled, flexible, and dry to a light yellowish to reddish for D. amethystinum, and thick-walled, firm, and dry to a dark reddish brown for D. meadia. Habitat is also a good indicator, with D. amethystinum found in more shaded cliffs and forests, and D. meadia preferring more open ground.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Christopher David Benda taken in Illinois.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Nancy - Arden Hills, Ramsey County
on: 2016-05-22 15:34:58

in a residential garden, not planted, spontaneous growth,

Posted by: Suzi M - st Louis Park
on: 2017-09-18 09:05:43

i love this plant, and would like to plant some in my garden. Wondering if it spreads via root system, or otherwise. I purchased a plant which was potted for a gift, it was very full and not as long stem to flower. Thanks. Any information for success is widely appreciated.

Posted by: Karen S - Rochester
on: 2018-05-20 20:50:38

Found in a prairie-type habitat in one of our city parks. Love this website!!

Posted by: Kenny h - Shooting Star Scenic Byway
on: 2019-05-24 11:24:36

Just checked out the only known site of wild Dodecatheon meadia in the state...flowering about 10 days later than normal...Shooting Star Scenic Byway...lots of other goodies around this site too!!!

Posted by: Kathy G - Coon Rapids
on: 2019-06-10 16:41:57

Found several of these white-flowering plants in my garden among the Virginia bluebells I bought at a nursery. The bluebells have been blooming for several years, but this the first year the shooting star flowered. Didn't even know they were there!

Posted by: Kathy Bolin - U.S. Hwy 56 right of way in Mower County
on: 2020-07-12 19:45:53

I discovered this species in 1980 along HWY 56 while surveying remnant prairies to identify what species were native to this part of Minnesota for restoration projects in the SEMN State Parks.The plants were already past bloom but I recognized the plant in the seed stage and called Welby Smith, MNDNR Botanist, to see if it was possible that shooting star would be found where I had found it. He was so excited that I had found it. He later confirmed that it was indeed Dodecatheon meadia. The find led to the creation of the Shooting Star Wildflower Route, Prairie Visions and Shooting Star Bike Trail. On 5/30/2020 shooting star was still in bloom in the right of way. It was a relief to see there were still many plants still there.

Posted by: Lonna Simanovski - Cabbage Rock formations near Preston MN
on: 2021-05-02 18:32:18

I'd seen one plant in Winona on the Holzinger trail system and looked it up. I don't recall seeing any others in all my trail running so I was amazed to see a LOT of these at the out of the way place. They were everywhere near these rocks. The rocks are super cool.

Posted by: Terra Rathai - Lake Nokomis Minneapolis
on: 2021-05-04 15:10:10

I found some growing between the lake and lagoon area last spring just off the trail!

Posted by: Marion Nelson - SE MN Houston
on: 2021-05-07 07:57:57

We have picked these shooting stars since I was a child in 1949. Found in our valley for years. They still grow in our woods.

Posted by: Marie Merten - Alexandria
on: 2022-07-02 09:45:23

We found this sweet little flower in our yard in kind of an area where it was transition from the woods behind our property to your yard, but in an area where it was kind of neglected with lilac, American Cranberry, Anna Belle Hydrangeas - not weeded (thankfully!). So happy to know what it is!

Posted by: Paige Hulne - Austin MN
on: 2023-12-01 07:58:10

This plant is growing in my yard, multiple plants. Never planted, so perhaps wild?

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