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Plant of the Week- April 29

Updated: May 6

Friends of the Blufflands will be starting a new feature on the website called "Plant of the Week" posting a different plant from the nearby bluffs on most Mondays. We hope that you will enjoy these posts, but ask that you avoid walking on sensitive areas such as the prairies which can cause significant damage to the growing plants and erosion. We take the photos when we are out working to restore and maintain the prairies and are as careful as possible to avoid trampling. This is the first plant in this series.


Plant #1:

 

Jeweled Shooting Star (either Primula fassettii or Dodecatheon amethystinum depending on the source) is an early spring ephemeral that blooms for only about two weeks and grows along rocky outcropings on the bluffs, both on the prairies and in the woods. It is a calciphile meaning it grows well in the limy soils near these cliffs. The highest populations in United States grow along the hills and valleys of the upper Mississippi River corridor in the Driftless Area. The flower is a nodding cluster of 5 purple-pink petals facing downward with the stigmas and style pointing down as well resembling a shooting star. I think it also looks like the object used in badminton called a shuttlecock. It is an important plant that provides native bees such as bumblebees an early source of pollen and nectar. It is listed as a special concern plant in Wisconsin and Minnesota.


After the petals fade and fall, the flower stalk straightens and a seed pod forms:


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