Flower of few-flowered shooting star (var. monanthum) as seen along Reecer Creek Road in the Wenatchee National Forest.........June 5, 2009. Variety monanthum has a dark purplish or blackish stamen tube as shown here while the more common variety pulchellum has a yellow stamen tube.
Few-flowered shooting star is an attractive perennial which should be fairly easy to grow in the garden meadow or rock garden. The erect stem rises 5-40 cm from a basal rosette of pale green, oblong to spoon-shaped leaves from 3-20 cm long. The leaves taper to winged petioles. The herbage of the leaves and stems is usually smooth-surfaced.
The 3-12 flowers have 5 floral parts. The corolla is 15-25 mm across with deep magenta to lavender petals 1-2 cm long and reflexed sharply backwards.. The tube at the base of the petals is white or yellow-ringed with a thin, wavy reddish-purple ring at the very base. The filaments are united to form a tube of yellow or purple anthers projecting to 1 cm from the mouth of the corolla tube. The anther connectives are smooth and and the stigma is not enlarged at the end of the style.
ssp. macrocarpum: filament tube yellow, anthers 5.5-7 cm long. found in the Columbia Gorge, Willamette Valley and adjacent foothills.
ssp. monanthum: filament tube reddish purple, anthers 3.5-5.5 mm long. Found at scattered sites east of the Cascade Mts (to eastern Oregon, northeastern California, and Utah), Willamette Valley, and Siskiyou Mts..
ssp. pulchellum: filament tube yellow, anthers 3.5-5 mm long, plants usually greater than 6 cm. Widespread east of the Cascade Mts..
Few-flowered shooting star is found in sagebrush and moist meadows and streamsides from lower elevations to subalpine habitats.
Few-flowered shooting star may be found from Alaska to Mexico and east to Pennsylvania and Utah.