Padre's shooting star, Primula clevelandii: is a beautiful, ethereal and ephemeral native wildflower that blooms in winter and is one of the first harbingers of spring in Malibu and throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.
Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
—John Donne, "Song"
In a wet year, shooting stars flourish, covering whole hillsides with delicate pink stars.
An almost white shooting star. The only one in a vast field of pink.
You are more likely to spot this beautiful wildflower on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains, especially in volcanic soils. This is a protected species, so please take only photographs and be careful not to step on the rosettes of leaves—this species is sensitive to soil compression and won't bloom again if it is trampled.
Shooting stars grow from a basal rosette of leaves. Like the garden variety of primrose, this plant is "spring deciduous," dying back after blooming and regrowing from its roots after the first winter rains.
The star-like flowers quickly turn into balloon-like seed capsules. When the seeds are mature, the capsule bursts open, shooting the seeds far and wide like a mini catapult.
The previous year's flower skeletons can provide a welcome clue of where to look for flowers the following year.