Plant of the Week
Alpine Shooting Star (Dodecatheon alpinum)
By Robinson Sudan
Flowering from June to August, this member of the primrose family (Primulaceae) carries 1 to 10 pink to lavender flowers on an umbel that rises 10 to 35 centimeters from a basal rosette. Having 4 sepals, the new flowers point to the ground and gradually become more erect with age. The anthers are noticeably black.
As its common name implies, Dodecatheon alpinum is an alpine species. It grows in wet, semi-aquatic habitats of the mountains in the western states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and Oregon.
Though the species as a whole is not considered threatened, the majus subspecies has been given a T3 Vulnerable status according to the Encyclopedia of Life designation.
This plant is of special value to bumble bees and requires their ability to buzz-pollinate for successful pollination. Buzz-pollinations is a technique used by some bees, such as the Bombus morio and many other bumble bees, to release pollen which is more or less firmly held by the anthers.