Wildflower of the Week: Shooting Stars

A shooting star (Dodecatheon clevelandii) near Garzas Creek in Garland Regional Park.

In Central California’s oak woodlands, shooting stars are easily the most prominent January wildflower, frequently carpeting the ground wherever clearings are found among the trees. But not this year. Dry weather has so far suppressed the shooting star bloom – and whether this weekend’s rains have come in time to change that remains to be seen.

While the reason for the shooting star’s common name is obvious, we’re not sure why this genus goes by the lofty title Dodecatheon (the twelve Olympian gods). The Dodecatheons are members of the primrose family. The genus is native to North America and Siberia and is represented in our area by two species; clevelandii and hendersonii.

While January is generally the time when the shooting stars emerge and reach the height of their bloom, they often persist in smaller numbers, overshadowed by later blooming wildflowers, into May. Look for them in Garland Park, in upper Carmel Valley and Cachagua, at the Pinnacles, and in oak woodlands everywhere.

D. clevelandii on Blue Rock Ridge.

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One Response to Wildflower of the Week: Shooting Stars

  1. richards Lyon says:

    The lack of rain sure makes a difference. No Stars in the Napa Valley yet, and it is an early bloomer in other years.

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