In September 1852 young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey came across an attractive flowering plant in northern California. After samples were received by his sponsors at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh it was named in his honour.

In this short film I am reading from John Jeffrey’s journals which were lost for 160 years and through my book GREEN GOLD will be revealed for the first time.

Jeffrey’s shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) is also known as Sierra shooting star or tall mountain shooting star. Its glowing pink flowers, which appear between April and June, look like shooting stars with their swept-back petals. They are held aloft on long slender stems above a rosette of wrinkled oblong leaves. This plant becomes dormant immediately after flowering. It prefers shade or partial sun, and medium moisture. Its spring flowers and early season dormancy makes it a perfect companion among perennials which emerge later in the garden, particularly among a rock garden or meadow.

The flowers of Jeffrey’s shooting star were considered to bring good fortune by some native American people, who used them as love charms. It is one of a few plants that is fertilised thanks to ‘buzz pollination‘ where the plant releases pollen when stimulated by the wingbeats of a bee.

The discovery of this beautiful flower is only one feature in the amazing true story from the adventures of John Jeffrey, the main character in my new book Green Gold. Subscriber offers are currently available. Visit


Green Gold on

Paperback Super Patron (1st edition paperback, ebook edition and your name in the list of Super Patrons in the front of the book) plus a personal letter of thanks from the author together with a pack of Dodecatheon jeffreyi seeds. Find out more

If you’re interested in growing your own shooting star plant, then you may be lucky to find some seeds of Jeffrey’s shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), but more usually some of the related species of shooting star are more commonly available.  For example: Dodecatheon meadia, available from Thompson & Morgan

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