Primula fassettii A.R. Mast & Reveal

Jeweled Shooting Star


CC = 10
CW = 5
MOC = 5
SRank = S2

© SRTurner

Family - Primulaceae

Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb.

Stems - Absent.

Leaves - All basal, in a dense rosette. Blades 10-25 cm long, the blades narrowly to broadly oblanceolate or elliptic-oblanceolate, gradually tapered at the base, lacking a distinct petiole, rounded or broadly angled to a blunt point at the tip, the margins entire to inconspicuously scalloped, the surfaces glabrous, lacking reddish coloration at the base, especially along the midvein.

Primula_fassettii_rosette.jpg Basal rosette.

© SRTurner

Primula_fassettii_rosette2.jpg Basal rosette.

© SRTurner

Primula_fassettii_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Primula_fassettii_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Umbels. Scapes 15-25 cm tall, glabrous. Umbels with 2-7 flowers, the involucral bracts 3-6 mm long, lanceolate, the flower stalks 3-5 cm long, glabrous.

Primula_fassettii_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Primula_fassettii_bracts.jpg Bracts and sepals.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Calyces 6-9 mm long, deeply lobed. Corollas with the tube 2-3 mm long, purple to maroon at the throat, the lobes 10-12 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, strongly reflexed, pink or lavender to rose-purple, rarely white, usually yellow at the base. Stamens exserted, the filaments fused into a membranous tube or nearly free, the anthers 6-7 mm long, fused into a tube around the style, the bases of their connectives expanded and purple. Style 7-9 mm long, slender, the stigma minute, capitate.

Primula_fassettii_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Primula_fassettii_flowers2.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Primula_fassettii_flower.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Capsules 9-11 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, relatively thin and papery-walled, light brown to yellowish brown. Seeds 0.7-1.0 mm long, more or less cuboid, angular, brown.

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Moist ledges and tops of limestone and dolomite bluffs.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Primula meadia, P. frenchii.

Other info. - This species is uncommon across its range, which includes only a few counties in central Missouri up through parts of the upper Midwest, with disjunct populations in northern West Virigina and southern Pennsylvania. It is quite habitat-specific, being found on calcareous rock bluffs, sometimes growing directly in small soil-bearing pockets of the rock face, as in the photos above.

Differentiation of this species from the far more common P. meadia can be very difficult. The most definitive trait is the capsule wall, which in P. fassettii is quite thin and yields easily to light finger pressure. The capsules are also more cylindrical in shape than those of P. meadia. The leaves often show a bluish cast and lack red coloration at the base, and the flower corollas are deeper in color. It is possible that the specimens shown in the photos above represent an intermediate form resulting from hybridization with P. meadia.

A synonym for this plant is Dodecatheon amethystinum. It has also been named as a variety of D. meadia (D. meadia L. var. amethystinum).

Photographs taken at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camden County, MO, 4-22-2023 (SRTurner).