Botanical Star of Bethlehem


Ornithogalum umbellatum, or Star of Bethlehem, is a genus of perennials native to southern Europe and southern Africa. Growing from a bulb, the plant has slender basal leaves and a stalk bearing clusters of white star-shaped flowers, sometimes striped with green. The common name, Star-of-Bethlehem, is based on the flower’s star-shape and the star that appeared in the biblical account of the birth of Jesus.

This plant can quickly out-perform other species and take over when planted in beds with other ornamental flowers and will quickly become a nuisance in gardens and lawns.  Seed production is uncommon, mostly spreading by small, abundantly produced bulblets.  If interested in growing this plant it is safest to grow it in containers or areas where it can be kept confined.

The Star of Bethlehem flower is steeped in Christian symbolism, from its supposed Biblical reference. It is often used in floral bouquets and arrangements for ceremonies, such as christenings, baptisms and marriages.

Ornithogalum was originally described by Linnaeus in 1753.


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