Montana Outdoors

April 7, 2011

‘the plant protected by twelve gods’

Shooting Star

Today on one small corner of the Flathead Indian Reservation, the first few Dark-throated Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) were in bloom. (This could also be a sub-species, Cusick’s Shooting Star.) The genus name  is from the Greek dodeka (twelve) and theos (god) and means ‘the plant protected by twelve gods’. They are quite common in this part of western Montana and are among the wildflowers that bloom quite early in the spring. I’ve seen them also at much higher elevations blooming in small patches on steep sunny hillsides in late summer.


  1. Another plant I’ve never been able to get a decent macro shot of! I love seeing them in bloom with western spring beauty (Claytonia lanceolata) over here in early spring.


    Comment by Aaron — April 7, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

    • Today was the first time I have seen any of these in bloom this year, and I haven’t seen any spring beauties yet. It has been a rather strange spring!


      Comment by montucky — April 7, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

  2. How beautiful; I mean Your photo and flower. I have never seen it and I think that it is not found in Finland.

    Thank You again giving Latin name and telling what the name means. I love it.


    Comment by sartenada — April 7, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

    • I think this is another wildflower that has a very limited distribution, although I’ve read that some are available commercially.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  3. Years ago while living in Eddy, my Mom and I picked these by the dozens. as they grew so well between the highway and the railroad tracks right in Eddy.They were a favorite for sure.We called them Johnny-jump-ups.There are so many beautiful spring flowers in this part of Montana and Idaho.
    Thanks for the photo…


    Comment by Frances Schenck — April 8, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    • When I get a chance, perhaps I can see if they still grow in that area near Eddy. Several years ago I saw large areas of them just off the highway toward the eastern end of Flathead lake, 15 miles or so from Polson.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  4. Very beautiful flower and capture. I need to get out and hike on some trails to find wild flowers, too.


    Comment by Mary Wallace — April 8, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    • There will be many more species starting to bloom here over the next several weeks. I always look forward to this time of year because of them.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  5. How very pretty! The flower does look like a shooting star and an interesting wildflower.


    Comment by Anna — April 8, 2011 @ 7:57 am

    • Yes, the name does fit the flower. These were a favorite when I was a child.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

  6. I’ve always liked shooting stars, but didn’t know they had a dozen gods looking out for them. Maybe that old trickster, Napi, stops by from time to time to check on them.


    Comment by knightofswords — April 8, 2011 @ 8:32 am

    • A dozen is pretty strong medicine, but I don’t know which gods they are.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

  7. Beautiful flower, lovely shot of it.


    Comment by Val Erde — April 8, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  8. Hi Montucky, I can certainly see why the name is appropriate. This is a very gem-like and exquisite flower. You have taken an excellent photograph. Have a fun-filled Friday!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — April 8, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    • “Gem-like” is an interesting observation. The Nlaka’pmx tribe used them as a charm to obtain wealth.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  9. Spectacular!!!


    Comment by mitambien — April 8, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  10. This such an exotic flower. Aptly named. Any medicinal qualities? Looks good enough to eat!


    Comment by Jack — April 8, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    • I read that the Okanagan tribe in Canada used an infusion of the plant as an eyewash, but I haven’t read of any other medicinal use.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

  11. This one is just plain fancy. They must be easy to spot. I wish we could grow shooting stars here, for more than one season.


    Comment by sandy — April 8, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

    • They are very small, but their color stands out from the grasses if you look very carefully. Most of them are only 3 or 4 inches tall. I have seen fairly large groups of them in fields of wild grass where there are enough that they present a wide pink cast to the area.


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  12. Shooting star is a good name for it. It reminds me of a dart.


    Comment by Ratty — April 8, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    • I hadn’t thought of the dart, but it does have a similar appearance!


      Comment by montucky — April 8, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

  13. Very unusual, it reminds me of a rocket ship.


    Comment by Candace — April 9, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  14. This is one of the best wild flower photographs that I have ever seen. The detail is exceptional. Keep ’em coming, I am completely stunned by your photography.


    Comment by Wild_Bill — April 9, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

    • Thanks Bill! I have a deep love for wildflowers and try my best to show their beauty in photographs. This is one of my favorite times of the year because wildflowers are beginning their blooming times.


      Comment by montucky — April 9, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

  15. What a lovely little flower with an exotic name. We don’t have any wild flowers blooming yet, however the weather is finally warming up, so hoping to see some in the woods soon.


    Comment by kateri — April 10, 2011 @ 5:30 am

    • Our wildflowers are about two weeks later than usual, but it looks like they are starting now.


      Comment by montucky — April 11, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  16. Beautiful flower, I would love to have those here. What lens do you shoot with? Have you tried a less centered composition? would lead the eye more around the image/flower. Great color and exposure.


    Comment by Anna — April 10, 2011 @ 6:17 am

    • The lens I use for wildflowers is a Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D and I really love it.


      Comment by montucky — April 11, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  17. Breathtakingly beautiful shot … I love your photographs. I have never seen this flower before. It is a very appropriate name …the little things around us are really very special.


    Comment by bearyweather — April 10, 2011 @ 7:46 am

    • Thank you! So many wildflowers are very small, yet I can’t get over their beauty when viewed closely. We really know so little about them and what purpose most of them serve in the diversity of nature.


      Comment by montucky — April 11, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  18. I’ve never seen anything like this. Exquisite beauty! Love the perfect simplicity of the image.


    Comment by Marcie — April 10, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    • Thanks Marcie. It was a childhood favorite and has remained so all of my life. These were always in the little spring bouquets that everyones’ mothers received when I was a kid.


      Comment by montucky — April 11, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  19. I’ve seen these flowers before and never knew what they were… this is a lovely macro and now I will know the next time I see them!


    Comment by Victoria — April 10, 2011 @ 10:02 am

    • They have always been pretty common in western Montana and I’m glad to see that they are still doing well. I’ve noticed that herbicides designed for weed control have destroyed quite a few of them along the country roads.


      Comment by montucky — April 11, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  20. These shooting stars would make a great bouquet for someone in the hospital since they come with 12 protecting Gods. Neat history of the flower.


    Comment by Preston — April 11, 2011 @ 6:30 am

    • I hadn’t thought of that Preston, but I do remember picking bouquets of them for folks who were sick or in care homes.


      Comment by montucky — April 11, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  21. Cool shot Terry..I love the color in this, we have them here but there all white, nice work !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — April 11, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  22. Just perfect!


    Comment by kcjewel — April 12, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

    • Thanks Jewel! It was very good to see these in bloom again!


      Comment by montucky — April 12, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  23. If that’s a wildflower, it’s one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen… wildflowers don’t grow that pretty & colorful around here! LoL! =)


    Comment by Tricia — April 13, 2011 @ 9:06 am

    • It is a wildflower, usually about the fourth species that blooms here in the spring. Rather small, but colorful enough to be seen if there are a group of them.


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  24. Gorgeous flowers! that’s an interesting idea, them being protected by 12 gods. I wonder why?


    Comment by songofthewolf — April 13, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    • I wonder too. A book that told how and why the flowers were named would be an interesting one!


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

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