On Ferry Hill

When B and I went hunting two weeks ago, one of our targets was Primula meadia (eastern shootingstar; Primulaceae), currently on the Maryland DNR watchlist (S3). Shootingstar likes to grow on the rocky outcroppings along the Potomac River, like on  inaccessibly high rocks above the larkspur-filled ravine (see my previous post).  We found plenty of plants nearby, though.

In general, this species likes moist to dry soils in open, rocky woodlands.  When flowering, the plants are about a foot and a half tall; when not flowering, there is only a basal rosette of rather large leaves.


Shootingstar’s range appears to be from south central Texas north to Minnesota and Wisconsin, then eastward to Florida and New York. Here’s the map from BONAP:

The taxonomy of this species seems to be unsettled. Regional authorities Alan Weakley, Wesley Knapp, and Robert Naczi are calling it Primula meadia, but I see it online and even in recently published guidebooks as Dodecatheon meadia. You’ll find the latter name in all the classic guides.



This species has many common names, including American cowslip, Virginia cowslip, gentlemen-and-ladies, pride of Ohio, Indian-chief, lamb’s-noses, rooster heads, snake-heads, mosquito-bells, and prairie pointers.