DODECATHEON pulchellum ssp. cusickii
Plant Common Name
Cusick's Shooting Star
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
The variable and lovely darkthroat shooting star is native across a wide expanse of western North America from Alaska down to California and New Mexico. It even extends into northwestern Mexico. Different variants favor dissimilar growing conditions in the wild. Some forms thrive in moist, scrubby lowlands and wetlands while others can be found growing in seasonally arid meadows or at high elevations. Physical differences exist between plants growing in the different environments and most have been afforded different subspecific and varietal names. There are disagreements among taxonomists regarding the number of subspecies and varieties.
Variable smooth green leaves that are oval, oblanceolate or spatula-shaped form neat, ground-hugging rosettes. The size of the rosette varies widely from variety to variety. Leaf edges are typically smooth or wavy and leaf stems are sometimes winged. Bloom time varies but most flower in spring or summer. The pointy, shooting star blooms are borne in umbellate clusters of a few or many flowers. The floral points of each bloom are comprised of fused pollen sacs, which may be yellow or maroon-black, and five reflexed petals in variable shades of magenta pink or white. Circles of yellow or white color are usually found at the base of the petals. The bee pollinated flowers produce small, ovoid, capsule fruits that turn from green to shades of tan or reddish brown. These are filled with seed that eventually spills to the ground when the capsules open. After flowering, the foliage of darkthroat shooting star goes dormant until the next winter or spring.
Cultivation varies based on the variety of darkthroat shooting star grown, but all favor full to partial sun and well-drained alkaline soils. Some are very tolerant of arid conditions while others need more seasonal moisture when actively growing. All require drier, cooler conditions when dormant. Cold tolerance is also highly variable and variety dependent. Coastal variants are more tolerant of Oceanside stresses such as high winds and salt spray.
This is a lovely seasonal ephemeral wildflower for naturalistic western gardens. Be sure to choose from regional germplasm when selecting a variant to grow.
AHS Heat Zone
10 - 1
USDA Hardiness Zone
3 - 10
A2, A3, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Full Sun, Partial Sun
6"-20" / 15.2cm - 50.8cm
4"-10" / 10.2cm - 25.4cm
Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Winter
Western United States, Northwestern United States, Southwestern United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico
White, Yellow, Pink, Magenta, Black
Green, Tan, Brown
Foliage Color (Spring)
Foliage Color (Winter)