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Kevin Doyle

Jeweled Shooting Star (Primula fassettii)

Life history

Species overview

Jeweled Shooting Star (Primula fassettii), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on moist, shaded dolomite and sandstone ledges and adjacent mesic woods on north-facing slopes. Blooming occurs early May through early June; fruiting occurs late May through early August. The optimal identification period for this species is early May through late June.

Synonyms: Dodecatheon amethystinum, Dodecatheon amethystinum f. amethystinum, D. amethystinum f. margaritaceum, D. meadia var. amethystinum, D. pulchellum ssp. pulchellum, D. radicatum var. radicatum


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from D. meadia by its magenta (not white) flowers, thin-walled, elongated (not thick-walled, shorter) fruit, and leaf bases not tinged with red.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers magenta, 5-parted, 2 cm wide, nodding and downward-pointing, borne in an umbel; petals arching back; stamens forming a yellow column.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule dark reddish-brown, thin-walled, over 3 times as long as wide.
  • Leaf characteristics: Leaves basal, ovate to elliptic, obtuse to subacute at the apex, abruptly contracted to the petiole, entire or rarely toothed, glabrous or minutely glandular, the base not tinged with red.


  • Blooming phenology: early May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: late May through early August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early May through late June


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Many moist prairies species; also Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Betula papyrifera, Solidago sciaphila, Asplenium rhizophyllum, Cystopteris spp., Sullivantia renifolia, Aquilegia canadensis.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Jeweled Shooting Star (Primula fassettii). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Primula fassettii in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1S2
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on moist, shaded dolomite and sandstone ledges and adjacent mesic woods on north-facing slopes.
  • Soils: Moist, sandy or calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Jeweled Shooting Star. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Jeweled Shooting Star. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Western Coulee and Ridges 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid moist or dry rocky areas within forests where this species has been reported.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.


Jeweled Shooting Star  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Jeweled Shooting Star  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Jeweled Shooting Star  Photo.

Jeweled shooting-star typically inhabits moist, often alkaline, cliffs within the hardwood forests of southwestern Wisconsin.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Jeweled Shooting Star  Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Jeweled Shooting Star  Photo.

Photo by Armund Bartz, Wisconsin DNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Friday, February 15, 2019
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition