Plant of the day: foothill shooting star

Dodecatheon_hendersonii2With flowers like tiny art-deco rocket ships, foothill shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii) is one of the most beautiful spring blossoms. Backward flung petals start out charcoal, then burn into a thin band of  flame-yellow before flaring into pale purple. At the front of the flower, dark and pointed anthers hug a narrow pistil, so the whole group terminates in a single point.

These perennial little plants grow along the Pacific Coast from BC to California. There are many species of shooting star, but only two that are in the SF Bay Area. You can tell foothill shooting star from Padre’s shooting star because its anthers are pointed, not rounded, and lack a yellow spot at their base. Foothill shooting star is also called mosquito bills–a more evocative name.

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