A whorl of basal leaves gives rise to a long stalk; at its tip arise several smaller, drooping stalks, each of which bears a single flower. Flowers with 5 petallike, large lobes recurved upward. Stamens and pistil protrude downward from tube, giving the “shooting star” appearance. Color pink, white, or purplish. Blooms April–June. Leaves basal, long-ovate to spatula-shaped, narrowed toward base, the midrib often tinted red. Plants and flowers on prairies are much more robust and larger than those growing on glades.
Height: to 2 feet.
Nearly statewide; absent or uncommon in the northwestern quarter and in the far southeastern counties.
Habitat and Conservation
Occurs in prairies, glades, bluffs, and open wooded slopes. Plants are often seen in woods, but this plant does not flower well in shaded areas. The fragrance of the flowers is something like the odor of grape juice, and the roots are said to smell something like canned corned beef.
At least one cultivated variety has been developed with larger flowers and taller flowering stalks. If you are wanting to grow shooting stars in your garden, please make sure you get them from an ethical nursery that doesn’t dig plants from the wild or buy from any suppliers who do.
This plant is pollinated by certain types of bees that are able to collect pollen from the oddly shaped flowers. After this plant has flowered and produced seeds, the foliage withers in summer and the plant goes dormant until next spring.