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This article is about the genus of plants. For the ancient Greek gods, see Twelve Olympians.
IMG 5511-Dodecatheon conjugens.jpg
Dodecatheon pulchellum (Fidalgo Island, Washington)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Primulaceae
Genus: Dodecatheon

See text.

Dodecatheon is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Primulaceae. The species have basal clumps of leaves and nodding flowers that are produced at the top of tall stems rising from where the leaves join the crown. The genus is largely confined to North America and part of northeastern Siberia. Common names include shooting star, American cowslip, mosquito bills, mad violets,[1] and sailor caps. A few species are grown in gardens for their showy and unique flower display.

The stamens are thrust out with the sepals bent back. The flowers are pollinated by bees, which grab hold of the petals, and gather pollen by vibrating the flowers by buzzing their wings (buzz pollination). The vibration releases pollen from the anthers.


Dodecatheon is related to the genus Primula (primroses and related plants); in fact, Primula without Dodecatheon is paraphyletic. One way of avoiding this is to move the Dodecatheon species into Primula. If this is done, the former genus Dodecatheon becomes a monophyletic section, Primula subg. Auriculastrum sect. Dodecatheon (L.) A.R.Mast & Reveal.[2]


Dodecatheon needs good drainage and often dry soils in summer and winter when plants are dormant, in the spring plants like moist soils for best growth. Plants grown in dry soils tend to be smaller and lower growing. Since plants typically go summer dormant, seed raised plants need three or more years of growth before they are large enough to bloom. For some Dodecatheon, if given frequent light fertilization and kept moist, dormancy can be delayed resulting in larger plants after germination and the interval between germination and flowering decreased by a year or two. Another technique to shorten the interval between seed germination and flowering is to place the plants in a cooler after dormancy has set in, in late spring, and after a number of weeks move the plants to a shadehouse in midsummer where new growth will start. The flowers need buzz pollination to produce seeds.

Dodecatheon can be propagated by division in winter.


There are 17 species:

name common name location
Dodecatheon alpinum alpine shootingstar California
Dodecatheon amethystinum Jewelled shootingstar Upper Midwest US, Pennsylvania
Dodecatheon austrofrigidum Frigid shootingstar Coast ranges of Oregon and Washington
Dodecatheon clevelandii padre's shootingstar California
Dodecatheon conjugens Bonneville shootingstar Wyoming to Oregon
Dodecatheon dentatum White shootingstar Washington to Idaho
Dodecatheon frenchii French's Shootingstar Southeastern US
Dodecatheon frigidum Frigid Shootingstar Alaska, NW Canada, Russia
Dodecatheon ellisiae Ellis' Shootingstar Arizona, New Mexico, W Mexico
Dodecatheon hendersonii broad-leaved shootingstar California to Idaho
Dodecatheon jeffreyi Sierra shootingstar California
Dodecatheon meadia Mead's shootingstar Eastern US
Dodecatheon poeticum Poet's shootingstar Washington, Oregon
Dodecatheon pulchellum pretty shootingstar western North America, northwest Mexico
Dodecatheon redolens scented shootingstar California, Nevada and Utah
Dodecatheon subalpinum Sierran shootingstar California
Dodecatheon utahense Wasatch shootingstar Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah


  1. ^ Frederic G. Cassidy, Chief Editor; Joan Houston Hall, Associate Editor (1996). Dictionary of American regional English. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 470. ISBN 0-674-20519-7. 
  2. ^ James L. Reveal. "Revision of Dodecatheon (Primulaceae)". apparently prepared for Flora of North America. 

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