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Ornithogalum umbellatum

Ornithogalum umbellatum L.

 

Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderLilialesIncludes lilies, tulips, trilliums, greenbriars, and others
FamilyLiliaceaeLilly family
GenusOrnithogalumFrom the Greek words ornis, “bird,” and gala, “milk” for the white flowers.
SpeciesumbellatumRefers to the arrangement of the flowers which arise in a head from a central point, i.e. bearing an umbel

About plant names...

When this lovely little plant popped up in the middle of my lawn, I carefully mowed around it three times. Then my nephew mowed the lawn. He didn’t get the memo! Oh well, maybe it’ll be back in the spring. Star of Bethlehem is native to southern and central Europe, northwestern Africa, and southwestern Asia. In North America it escaped cultivation and is now naturalized. In Maryland and Pennsylvania, it is reported to be invasive. It prefers new forests, floodplain forests, and wet meadows, yards, or gardens.

Plants: A perennial growing from bulbs, 6-12" (15-30 cm) × 12-24" (30-60 cm). Each bulb is ½-⅞" (1.5-2.5 cm) × ⅝-1¼" (1.8-3.2 cm). Stems, technically scapes, are ⅜-1" (1-3 cm) long.

Leaves: 6-10 narrow, linear, grasslike leaves, with a white line on the upper surface. Each leaf is up to 12" (30 cm) × ¼" (8 mm)

Flowers: Each flower is a star ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) in dia­meter, with six petals, appearing in small groups (umbels). Flowers are striped green on the outside, appearing from April to May.

Fruits: Fruits are 3-sided. containing many black seeds. Seeds ripen from June to July.

Edibility: Bulbs can cause dermatitis in some people, and is said to be poisonous to people and to grazing animals.

Medical: Despite serious safety concerns, people take star of Bethlehem for congestive heart failure (CHF) (WebMD.com). Don’t do this!

Online References:

Ornithogalum umbellatum on the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted List

Ornithogalum umbellatum on www.eddmaps.org

Ornithogalum umbellatum at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Ornithogalum umbellatum on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

References:

Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 370

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/6/2011 · Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Chester, MD
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm) ID is uncertain

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/27/2017 · Tom and Susan's, Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Ornithogalum umbellatum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 3 Jul 2017.

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Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/27/2017 · Tom and Susan's, Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/15/1979 · VA · By Tim Chandler

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/27/2017 · Tom and Susan's, Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/15/1979 · VA · By Tim Chandler

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o’clock Lady, Star-of-Bethlehem)

5/6/2011 · Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Chester, MD
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm) ID is uncertain

Range: Zones 4-9:

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