General: perennial with single, leafless flower stems, 5-40 cm tall, hairless to conspicuously glandular-short-hairy throughout including the capsules, from very short erect rootstocks, without bulblets.
Leaves: basal, 2-15 cm long, blades oblong-lanceolate to oblanceolate, mostly entire to somewhat small-toothed, narrowed gradually to winged stalks nearly as long.
Flowers: about 1-25 clustered at the stem top. Calyx usually purple-flecked, the 5 lobes 3-5 mm long. Corolla 10-20 mm long, the 5 lobes swept backwards, purplish-lavender, seldom white, the short tube yellowish, usually with a purplish wavy line at the base. Filaments united into a yellowish tube 1.5-3 mm long, smooth or only slightly wrinkled. The 5 anthers joined to a projecting point, usually yellowish to reddish-purple, 4-7 mm long. Stigma slightly larger than the style.
Fruits: capsules, many-seeded, ovoid-cylindric, hairless to glandular-hairy, membranous to firm-walled, 5-15 mm long, opening from the tip into sharp teeth.
Saline swamps and mountain meadows and streams, plains to alpine zone, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from AK to Mexico, and , e. to PA.
Pretty shootingstar was used medicinally by the Okanagan-Colville and Blackfoot Indians. An infusion of the roots was used as a wash for sore eyes. A cooled infusion of leaves was used for eye drops. An infusion of leaves was gargled, especially by children, for cankers.
ssp. cusickii (Greene) Calder & Taylor: Plants glandular-short-hairy throughout. From s. B.C. to OR and MT.
ssp. pulchellum (Raf.) Merr.: Plants hairless to sparsely short-hairy. Leaves more commonly spatulate to oblanceolate, narrowed gradually to the stalks. From AK to n. CA, e. chiefly n. of the Great Basin to the Central and Middle Atlantic states, s. in the Rockies to Mexico.
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