The Botanical Star of Bethlehem Is Really A Beautiful Weed

StarOFBethelem

Ornithogalum umbellatum, or Star of Bethlehem, is a genus of perennials native to southern Europe and southern Africa. The plant has slender basal leaves and a stalk bearing clusters of white star-shaped flowers, sometimes striped with green, growing from a bulb. The common name, Star-of-Bethlehem, is based on the flower’s star-shape and the star that appeared in the biblical account of Jesus’s birth. But don’t be fooled by those beautiful little flowers, this plant can easily a nuisance in gardens and lawns when allowed to run wild.

A Beautiful Weed Is Still A Weed

This plant can quickly out-perform other species and take over when planted in beds with other ornamental flowers and 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.

A Plant Spread By The Crusaders

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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Aristocrats of the woodland garden

hellebore flower

Commonly known as hellebores, the genus Helleborus consists of approximately 20 species of herbaceous perennial flowering dicots. These plants belong to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Common names include “winter rose”, “Christmas rose” and “Lenten rose”; however, hellebores are not closely related to the roses.    The leaves are toothed and leathery leaves. Many hellebore species are poisonous.

The distinctive flowers have five petal-like sepals surrounding a ring of small, cup-like nectaries that are actually modified petals to hold nectar. The sepals do not fall as petals would, but remain on the plant, sometimes for many months.

Hellebores are widely grown in USDA Zone 5 through 8 gardens for decorative purposes. They are particularly valued by gardeners for their winter and early spring flowering period.  The plants are surprisingly frost-resistant and are best grown in groups in wooded or shady borders.

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