The Western Starflower is a member of the Primrose family. It is also called the Pacific Starflower. This beautiful little flower grows all over the south coast of BC and blooms from late May to early June. The Western Starflower is a perennial herb that grows from slender, creeping rhizomes.
The leaves are simple and occur in whorls of 5 to 9 at the tip of the stem. They are stalkless or on very short stalks and are smooth to very finely toothed. The bloom is a single flower or sometimes 2 to 3 flowers on slender stalks 2 to 5 cm long. Flowers are white to pinkish-white with 5 to 9 petals and approximately .75 to 1.5 cm in diameter.
The Western Starflower is one of the more common spring wildflowers in western BC, occurring in both deciduous and coniferous forests. Depending on latitude and elevation, Starflowers generally bloom from mid to late spring into early summer.
Their habitat preference is open to dappled shade in moist woods, but they may be found going in dry, sandy, acidic soils as well. Starflowers are pollinated by bees. The Starflower plant generally goes dormant in mid-summer with the leaves yellowing and then falling to the ground so that all that is left is the stem with 1 to 2 tiny seed capsules ripening at the tip.
Seeds do not germinate before undergoing a cold stratification and do not germinate until the fall of the second year allowing seeds to be disseminated by insects.
Many gardeners do not find starflowers to be showy enough or to flower long enough for their tastes. However, if you are working in a woodland shade garden it does add to the diversity of wildflowers in this type of naturalized planting. Personally, I find them to be very beautiful flowers and always enjoy seeing them.