Smooth Prairie Star – Lithophragma glabrum

Saxifrage Family – Saxifragaceae

Actual flower size: 3/4 inch across

Actual flower size: 3/4 inch across

Smooth Prairie Star is also called Smooth Woodland Star, Bulbiferous or Bulblet Woodland Star, Rocket Star, and Fringecup.

Plant Description: Smooth Prairie Star is a slender, 10 to 20-inch tall, perennial. The stems are erect, sticky, hairy, red-purple, with 2 to 5 flowers near the top. It does not have true basal leaves, as the lowest leaves branch from slightly above ground level.  The leaves are hairless, deeply cut into 3 to 5 sharp-tipped leaflets (which are often divided again). There are usually two small stem leaves with 3 leaflets on the flowering stem.

Flower Description: The flowers are 3/4 inch across. Dark red sepals form an open cup with 5 lobes. 5 white or pale pink petals, up to 1/2 inches long,  flare out between the lobes, each deeply divided into 3 to 5 long, narrow lobes with very sharp points.

Ecology: Smooth Prairie Star is abundant on grassy slopes east of the Cascades. It is sometimes found in the far northern part of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, at lower to middle elevations.

Note: Tiny red bulblets in the axils of the upper stems may replace some of the flowers. When Smooth Prairie Star has bulblets it is sometimes listed as a separate species, Bulbiferous Prairie-star (Lithophragma bulbiferum.)