Open the Advanced Search

Spiked Star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum pyrenaicum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asparagaceae (Asparagus)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, scrub, woodland.

White, 6 petals
Long stalked spikes of star-shaped flowers. Flowers are pale yellowish-green or a dull white. Petals are striped green on their outsides. Insect pollinated.
The fruit is a capsule whose seeds ripen in August and September.
An erect bulbous perennial with narrow, linear, greyish-green leaves. All of the leaves are basal leaves. The leaves usually die back at the same time as the flowers open. Also known as 'Bath Asparagus' because it was formerly marketed in Bath, Somerset, as asparagus where it was once abundant.
Other Names:
Bath Asparagus, French Asparagus, French Sparrow Grass, Prussian Asparagus, Pyrenean Star of Bethlehem, Pyrenees Star of Bethlehem, Spiked Ornithogalum, Wild Asparagus.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, also known as Pyrenees star-of-Bethlehem, is a perennial herb that is native to the Pyrenees mountains in Europe. It has white, star-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring and is known for its umbel-like 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 a threatened species in some states, and is protected by law in several countries.


The Spiked Star of Bethlehem, scientifically known as Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, is a beautiful flowering plant that belongs to the Asparagaceae family. It is native to Europe and can be found in the Pyrenees, the Alps, and other mountainous regions in the continent.

The Spiked Star of Bethlehem is a perennial herb that can grow up to 50 centimeters in height. Its narrow leaves are dark green and can grow up to 30 centimeters in length. The plant blooms from May to July, producing spikes of small, star-shaped white flowers that can reach up to 5 centimeters in diameter.

The Spiked Star of Bethlehem is a hardy plant that is well-suited to grow in rock gardens or in dry, well-drained soil. It prefers full sun to partial shade and can be propagated by dividing its bulbs in the autumn or early spring.

Despite its beauty and resilience, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem can be toxic to both humans and animals if ingested. The plant contains cardiac glycosides, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, heart failure. Therefore, it is important to keep the plant away from children and pets.

In traditional medicine, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin disorders. However, its medicinal properties have not been extensively studied, and it is not recommended for self-medication.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem has also been used in culinary applications. The plant's young leaves and shoots can be added to salads, and its bulbs can be cooked and eaten like potatoes. However, as with any wild food, it is important to ensure that the plant is not contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals before consuming it.

The Spiked Star of Bethlehem is a unique and beautiful plant that has a range of uses and benefits. Its stunning flowers, hardy nature, and potential for culinary and medicinal use make it a popular choice for gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike.

The Spiked Star of Bethlehem has been used in a number of cultural and religious contexts throughout history. In Christian tradition, it has been associated with the biblical story of the Nativity, where the star of Bethlehem is said to have led the three wise men to the baby Jesus. In some parts of Europe, the plant has also been associated with the winter solstice and the celebration of the return of the sun.

In addition to its cultural and religious significance, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem has also been the subject of scientific research. One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2012 found that the plant's bulbs contain a variety of bioactive compounds, including antioxidants, which may have potential health benefits. Another study published in the Journal of Natural Products in 2009 found that the plant's leaves contain compounds with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

However, it is important to note that the scientific research on the Spiked Star of Bethlehem is limited and more studies are needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks.

The Spiked Star of Bethlehem is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a range of uses. From its stunning flowers and hardy nature to its potential medicinal and culinary applications, it is a plant that continues to captivate and inspire.

In addition to its ornamental, medicinal, and culinary uses, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem also has ecological importance. The plant is an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators, which helps to support biodiversity and promote healthy ecosystems. The Spiked Star of Bethlehem is also an indicator of healthy soil and a lack of pollution, as it is sensitive to changes in its environment.

Unfortunately, like many wild plants, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem is threatened by habitat loss, climate change, and other environmental pressures. It is important to protect and conserve this plant and other wild species to maintain the health and resilience of our ecosystems.

One way to support the conservation of the Spiked Star of Bethlehem is to cultivate it in your own garden or in community spaces. By growing and sharing the plant with others, you can help to preserve its genetic diversity and ensure that it continues to thrive. You can also support organizations and initiatives that work to protect wild plants and their habitats, such as local conservation groups, botanical gardens, and seed banks.

In conclusion, the Spiked Star of Bethlehem is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a range of uses and benefits. From its beauty and resilience to its ecological and cultural significance, it is a plant that continues to captivate and inspire. By cultivating and conserving this plant and other wild species, we can help to protect our planet's biodiversity and ensure a healthier and more resilient future for ourselves and for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map