Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem)

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 5-1-19, #564-37.

Star of Bethlehem, Common Star of Bethlehem, Eleven-O’clock Lady, Ten-O’Clock Lady, Nap at Noon, Grass Lily, Snowdrop, Sleepydick, Summer Snowflake, Star of Hungary, Bird’s Milk, ETC…

Ornithogalum umbellatum

or-ni-THOG-al-um  um-bell-AY-tum

Synonyms of Ornithogalum umbellatum (23) (Updated on 3-30-22 from Plants of the World Online): Hyacinthus umbellatus (L.) E.H.L.Krause, Ornithogalum affine Boreau, Ornithogalum angustifolium Boreau, Ornithogalum boraeanum Jord. & Fourr., Orthogalum campestre (Savi) Prain, Ornithogalum cespititium Jord. & Fourr., Ornithogalum corymbosum Gaterau, Ornithogalum dioscoridis Bubani, Ornithogalum fasciculatum Timb.-Lagr., Ornithogalum horologicum Stokes, Ornithogalum minus L., Ornithogalum nanum Ten., Ornithogalum parviflorum Jord. & Fourr., Ornithogalum peyrei Timb.-Lagr., Ornithogalum praetextum Steven ex Kunth, Ornithogalum preumbellatum Candargy, Ornithogalum rusticum Jord. & Fourr., Ornithogalum stellare Salisb., Ornithogalum tardans Jord. & Fourr., Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp. angustifolium (Boreau) P.D.Sell, Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp. campestre (Savi) Rouy, Scilla campestris Savi, Stellaris corymbosa (Gaterau) Moench

Ornithogalum umbellatum L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Common Sar of Bethlehem. Both the genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 12-21-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 213 species in the Ornithogalum genus. It is a member of the plant family Asparagaceae with 119 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map of Ornithogalum umbellatum from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. Retrieved on October 10, 2021.

The above distribution map for Ornithogalum umbellatum from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database is similar and also includes California and Florida.

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.

THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 5-1-19, #564-38.

The largest colonies of Ornithogalum umbellatum on the farm are located in the back part of the largest hayfield/pasture. They are spread out in an area of approximately 100′ x 30′. They don’t grow that tall, so if the grass is also taller you kind of need to hunt for them. I started getting more into wildflower ID on the farm in 2019 so I took a lot of photos. Then, in 2020, I took quite a few more photos of the species on a friend’s farm. They go by several common names including. Star of Bethlehem, Common Star of Bethlehem, Eleven-O’clock Lady, Ten-O’clock Lady, Nap at Noon, Grass Lily, Snowdrop, Sleepydick, Summer Snowflake, Star of Hungary, Bird’s Milk, Starflower, and probably others…

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 5-1-19, #564-9.

Ornithogalum umbellatum definitely has neat flowers which is why they were imported in the first place. However, they can be an issue, which is why they have spread so well in favorable conditions. They escaped flower beds and can now be found in lawns, pastures, hayfields, crop fields, etc., etc. They grow in full sun to light shade and may prefer damper soil in low areas of pastures, along streams, rivers, and swampy areas. 

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 5-1-19, #564-40.

Even though the species is now classified as part of the plant family Asparagaceae (the asparagus family), they are definitely not edible. Plants contain cardiac glycosides (and possibly alkaloids). It is reported the species can cause deaths of livestock, particularly sheep. The species is listed as an invasive noxious weed in a few states. 

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 5-1-19, #564-41.

Ornithogalum umbellatum produces a rosette of grasslike leaves with whitish midribs. The leaves can grow up to 12” tall.

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-36.

One or more flower stalks (or racemes), 6-9” tall, emerge from the center of the rosette of leaves. Each stalk branches out to produce an inflorescence with 3-12 flowers. The individual flower stalks (pedicels) have a paper-thin bract along the nodes of the main stem. 

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-37.

Each flower stem produces a single bright white flower. Most flowers have a calyx (or calyces) and petals (sepals). However, with this species they are indistinguishable. As a whole, the flower is called a perianth and the individual “petals” are called tepals. It is like tepals are a combination of calyces and petals… Anyway, the upper surface of the six tepals are a bright white while the abaxial (underside) has a prominent green stripe. The flowers have 6 yellowish-brown stamens with flattened filaments with oblong anthers. The ovaries in the center are 6-angled which become the fruit and contain the seed.

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-38.

 

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-39.

Grass-like leaves emerge from the soil.

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-40.

Leaves with a whitish midrib.

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-41.

Abaxial (underside) of the tepals with a green stripe.

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-42.

A papery bract is attached at the node…

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem) on 4-27-20, #692-43.

The flowers of the Common Star of Bethlehem, or whatever you want to call it, open in the sun and close after a few hours. They usually remain closed on cloudy days.

I honestly wouldn’t recommend planting this species in your flower bed due to its tendency to spread in favorable conditions…

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.

FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
TROPICOS (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
DAVE’S GARDEN
MISSOURI PLANTS
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
iNATURALIST
WILDFLOWER SEARCH
ILLINOIS WILDFLOWERS
MINNESOTA WILDFLOWERS
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
GO BOTANY
FLORA FINDER
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
GARDENIA
ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY
ONTARIO WILDFLOWERS

NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂

 

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