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Garden Star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum umbellatum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asparagaceae (Asparagus)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Beaches, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

White, 6 petals
White star-shaped flowers with yellow anthers. The petals each have a green stripe on the underside. Similar to Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum campestre) but with larger flowers. The flowers of Garden Star of Bethlehem measure up to 5.5cm across. Pollinated by insects.
The Garden Star-of-Bethlehem does not produce fruit in the traditional sense. Instead, it reproduces through both seeds and bulb offsets. The plant is primarily known for its star-shaped white flowers and linear leaves, adding ornamental value rather than fruit-bearing characteristics. The seeds ripen in June and July.
A tuft-forming bulbous perennial. All leaves are basal leaves. The strap-shaped leaves are linear with 3 to 9 parallel channels. Occasionally seen growing as a garden escape in the wild.
The Garden Star-of-Bethlehem is known to emit a sweet fragrance, particularly in some varieties. The scent can be subtle and pleasant, adding to the overall appeal of the plant. However, it's important to note that not all varieties may have a noticeable fragrance, and individual sensitivities to scents can vary.
Other Names:
Common Star-of-Bethlehem, Dove's Dung, Eleven-o'clock Lady, Grass Lily, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, Nap-at-noon, Sleepy Dick, Summer Snowflake, Ten-o'clock Lady.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ornithogalum umbellatum, also known as common star-of-Bethlehem, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It has white, star-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring and is known for its large umbel inflorescence. The plant is often found in meadows and grasslands, and is valued for its attractive flowers. It is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. It is considered an invasive species in some states, it can outcompete native plants and displace them.


The Garden Star of Bethlehem, also known as Ornithogalum umbellatum, is a beautiful perennial plant that is native to Europe but can also be found in North America, where it is often grown as an ornamental plant. The plant is popular for its striking white flowers and its ability to thrive in a wide range of growing conditions, including in gardens, meadows, and woodland areas.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem is a member of the Asparagaceae family and is sometimes called the "false hyacinth" due to its resemblance to the popular spring bulb. The plant has a basal rosette of long, narrow leaves that are up to 30 cm long, and from which arises a tall, slender stem that can reach up to 50 cm in height. At the top of the stem, the plant produces a cluster of star-shaped white flowers that have six petals and a yellow or green center.

The flowers of the Garden Star of Bethlehem typically bloom in late spring or early summer and are a favorite of many gardeners for their delicate beauty and sweet fragrance. The plant is also attractive to pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a great addition to any pollinator garden.

One of the unique features of the Garden Star of Bethlehem is its ability to naturalize in many different types of soil and light conditions. The plant prefers well-drained soils and full to partial sun, but can also grow in shady areas and in soils that are less fertile. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance plant that can adapt to a variety of growing conditions.

While the Garden Star of Bethlehem is generally considered to be a beautiful and useful plant, it is important to note that it can also be invasive in certain regions. In areas where the plant is not native, it has been known to spread quickly and compete with native plant species, which can be detrimental to local ecosystems. Gardeners should be aware of the potential risks of planting this species and should take care to prevent it from spreading beyond its intended growing area.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem is a stunning and versatile plant that can add beauty and fragrance to any garden. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this plant is a great choice for its low-maintenance requirements and its adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions. Just be sure to take care when planting and managing this species to prevent it from becoming invasive and potentially harming local ecosystems.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem has a rich history of cultural significance in many parts of the world. In ancient Greece, the plant was associated with the goddess Aphrodite and was thought to symbolize purity and innocence. In some parts of Europe, it was used as a medicinal herb for a variety of ailments, including headaches, toothaches, and snake bites. Today, the plant is still used in some herbal remedies, although it is not recommended for internal use due to its toxic properties.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem is also a popular plant for cut flower arrangements and is often used in wedding bouquets or as a filler in mixed flower arrangements. When cut, the flowers can last for up to two weeks and will continue to open over time, making them a long-lasting and beautiful addition to any bouquet or arrangement.

One of the challenges of growing the Garden Star of Bethlehem is its tendency to go dormant during the summer months. This means that the plant will die back to the ground and will not produce any leaves or flowers until the following spring. To avoid having bare spots in your garden during the summer, it is recommended to plant the Garden Star of Bethlehem in combination with other perennials or annuals that will fill in the space while the plant is dormant.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or floral arrangement. With its stunning white flowers, sweet fragrance, and adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions, it is no wonder that this plant has been popular with gardeners and flower enthusiasts for centuries. Whether you are looking to add some beauty to your garden or create a unique floral arrangement, the Garden Star of Bethlehem is a plant that is sure to impress.

While the Garden Star of Bethlehem is generally considered to be a low-maintenance plant, there are a few things to keep in mind when growing it. The plant prefers well-drained soil and does not tolerate standing water, so be sure to plant it in an area that has good drainage. In addition, the plant can be susceptible to fungal diseases if it is grown in damp conditions, so avoid overwatering and make sure that the foliage has good air circulation.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem can be propagated by dividing the clumps of bulbs in the fall or early spring. To divide the bulbs, dig up the clump and separate the individual bulbs, taking care to avoid damaging the roots. Replant the bulbs at the same depth they were originally planted, and water them well to encourage new growth.

If you are planting the Garden Star of Bethlehem in a garden, it is recommended to space the bulbs about 4-6 inches apart to allow for adequate airflow and prevent overcrowding. The plant can also be grown in containers, although it may require more frequent watering and fertilization than if it were grown in the ground.

Finally, it is important to note that the Garden Star of Bethlehem is toxic if ingested, and can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. As a result, it is not recommended to plant this species in areas where children or pets may have access to it, and it is important to wash your hands after handling the plant to avoid accidental ingestion.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add elegance and fragrance to any garden or floral arrangement. While it is generally considered to be a low-maintenance plant, it is important to plant it in well-drained soil, avoid overwatering, and take care to prevent overcrowding. With its stunning white flowers and sweet fragrance, the Garden Star of Bethlehem is sure to be a favorite of gardeners and flower enthusiasts for years to come.

The Garden Star of Bethlehem is not just a beautiful plant, but it also has some interesting cultural and symbolic meanings. In Christianity, the plant is believed to be a symbol of the birth of Christ, representing purity, innocence, and hope. In the language of flowers, the Garden Star of Bethlehem is often associated with the idea of "eternal life," making it a popular choice for funeral arrangements and memorials.

The plant has also been used in traditional medicine for its diuretic, emetic, and expectorant properties. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems, skin conditions, and fevers. However, it is important to note that the plant is toxic if ingested and should only be used under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional.

In addition to its cultural and medicinal significance, the Garden Star of Bethlehem has also been used in some countries as a food source. The bulbs of the plant are rich in starch and have been used in some traditional recipes as a source of carbohydrates. However, it is important to note that the bulbs are toxic if not properly prepared, and should not be consumed without expert guidance.

Overall, the Garden Star of Bethlehem is a fascinating and versatile plant that has played an important role in many different cultures throughout history. Whether you are drawn to its stunning beauty, its cultural significance, or its medicinal properties, this plant is sure to be a fascinating addition to any garden or floral arrangement. Just be sure to handle it with care and keep it away from children and pets to avoid accidental ingestion.

30 Garden Star-of-Bethlehem Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Ornithogalum umbellatum, commonly known as Garden Star-of-Bethlehem.
  2. Family: Asparagaceae.
  3. Origin: Native to Europe but has become naturalized in various parts of North America.
  4. Habitat: Thrives in meadows, grasslands, gardens, and open woodlands.
  5. Appearance: Herbaceous perennial with linear leaves and a central flowering stem.
  6. Flower Structure: Star-shaped, white flowers with six petals arranged in a loose umbel.
  7. Blooming Season: Typically blooms in late spring to early summer.
  8. Height: Usually grows between 8 to 18 inches (20 to 45 cm).
  9. Reproductive Method: Reproduces both by seeds and bulb offsets.
  10. Invasive Nature: Can be invasive and forms dense colonies, displacing native vegetation.
  11. Fragrance: Some varieties produce a sweet fragrance.
  12. Sunlight Requirement: Prefers full sun to partial shade.
  13. Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, adaptable to various soil types.
  14. Hardiness Zones: Grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3-9.
  15. Toxicity: All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested and can be harmful to pets and livestock.
  16. Historical Significance: The name "Star-of-Bethlehem" is thought to be derived from its star-shaped flowers and biblical associations.
  17. Uses in Folk Medicine: In traditional medicine, it has been used for various purposes, but caution is advised due to its toxicity.
  18. Cultural Symbolism: Associated with purity and resurrection in some cultures.
  19. Varieties: Several cultivars are available with variations in flower size and color.
  20. Adaptability: Tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions.
  21. Naturalized Regions: Commonly found in disturbed areas, roadsides, and grassy fields.
  22. Pollination: Attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
  23. Resilience: Resistant to many pests and diseases.
  24. Drought Tolerance: Exhibits moderate drought tolerance once established.
  25. Bulb Storage: The plant stores energy in underground bulbs during dormant periods.
  26. Influence in Literature: Mentioned in some literary works for its beauty and symbolism.
  27. Insect Repellent: Some compounds in the plant are believed to have insect-repelling properties.
  28. Growth Rate: Can spread rapidly in favorable conditions.
  29. Conservation Concerns: Considered invasive in some regions, posing a threat to native flora.
  30. Control Measures: Management strategies include manual removal and herbicide application to control its spread.


Garden Star-of-Bethlehem at Formby in Lancashire on the 8th May 2023.


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