Open the Advanced Search

Drooping Star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum nutans

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:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, scrub, woodland.

White, 6 petals
Spikes of slightly nodding, white flowers, tinged green. The 6 petals curve backwards. The backs of the petals each have a green stripe. Flowers measure up to 4cm across.
The fruit is a broadly oval, 3-angled capsule.
A bulbous perennial with strap-shaped linear leaves. Each of the leaves have a broad silvery-green stripe running along their centre. Often encountered as a garden escape.
Other Names:
Nodding Star of Bethlehem.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Ornithogalum nutans, also known as nodding 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 nodding 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.


Drooping Star of Bethlehem, scientifically known as Ornithogalum nutans, is a stunning perennial flowering plant that is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. It belongs to the family of Asparagaceae, and it is a popular ornamental plant that is widely grown for its beautiful flowers.

The plant gets its name from its delicate star-shaped flowers that hang or droop down from the stems. The flowers are usually white or cream-colored with a green stripe running down the middle of each petal. The plant's leaves are narrow and elongated, and they grow in a basal rosette around the base of the stem.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem is a relatively easy plant to grow and care for. It prefers a well-drained soil and a location with full or partial sun exposure. The plant can tolerate some shade, but it may not bloom as profusely in low light conditions. It is also a hardy plant that can withstand drought and heat, making it an ideal choice for gardens in hot and dry regions.

One of the most appealing features of Drooping Star of Bethlehem is its ability to naturalize and spread quickly. The plant produces offsets or bulblets that grow into new plants, forming clusters or colonies that can cover large areas of the garden. This makes it a great plant for groundcover or as a border plant in garden beds.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem is also known for its medicinal properties. The plant contains a compound called scilliroside, which is used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory and heart conditions. However, it is important to note that the plant is toxic and should not be ingested without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant that can add a touch of elegance and charm to any garden. Its stunning flowers and ability to naturalize make it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. With its medicinal properties and attractive appearance, it is no wonder why this plant has become a favorite among plant enthusiasts.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem is also known by several other common names, including Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem, Dangling Star-of-Bethlehem, and Pendent Star-of-Bethlehem. It is a popular plant for use in rock gardens, borders, and as a container plant.

The plant is typically propagated by dividing bulbs in the fall or early spring. It can also be grown from seeds, although it may take several years to produce flowers. Once established, Drooping Star of Bethlehem requires little maintenance other than occasional watering and fertilizing.

One of the benefits of growing Drooping Star of Bethlehem is that it attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden. The plant's sweet fragrance and nectar-rich flowers make it a popular feeding source for these important garden visitors.

However, it is important to note that Drooping Star of Bethlehem is considered an invasive species in some areas, including parts of North America. Its ability to spread quickly and form dense colonies can crowd out native plant species and disrupt ecosystems. Before planting Drooping Star of Bethlehem, it is important to check with local authorities to determine if it is an appropriate choice for the area.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Drooping Star of Bethlehem has also been used in folklore and mythology. In some cultures, it is believed to symbolize purity and hope, while in others it is associated with death and mourning. In Greek mythology, the plant is said to have been created by the goddess Artemis, who was said to have turned a nymph named Ornitho-galos into the plant.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful and versatile plant that offers a range of benefits to gardeners and nature enthusiasts. Whether grown for its stunning flowers, medicinal properties, or symbolic value, this plant is a wonderful addition to any garden.

Drooping Star of Bethlehem is also a popular cut flower, and its long-lasting blooms are often used in floral arrangements and bouquets. The plant's delicate, star-shaped flowers can add a touch of elegance to any floral display, and its long stems make it an ideal choice for tall arrangements.

However, it is important to note that Drooping Star of Bethlehem is toxic to pets and livestock. The plant contains a compound called saponin, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms if ingested. It is important to keep pets and livestock away from the plant and to handle it with care when planting or cutting for floral arrangements.

In terms of landscaping, Drooping Star of Bethlehem is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways. Its naturalizing tendencies make it a popular choice for creating a naturalistic look in garden beds and along borders. The plant's attractive flowers and foliage also make it a great choice for containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

In terms of companion planting, Drooping Star of Bethlehem is a good choice to plant alongside other perennials such as daffodils, crocuses, and other bulbs. The plant's early blooming period can complement the blooms of other spring-flowering plants and provide a burst of color and interest to the garden.

Overall, Drooping Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful and versatile plant that offers a range of benefits to gardeners, nature enthusiasts, and those interested in traditional medicine. Its stunning flowers, ease of care, and ability to naturalize make it a popular choice for a variety of garden styles and purposes. However, it is important to use caution when handling the plant and to be aware of its invasive tendencies in some areas.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map