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Overview

Brief Summary

History in the United States

Also called drooping star-of-Bethlehem, this species was introduced for ornamental purposes and is widely cultivated. A diminutive close relative (O. umbellatum), known as sleepydick, nap-at-noon, and common star-of-Bethlehem, is native to northern Africa, western Asia and Europe, and was also introduced as an ornamental plant. It has been reported to be invasive in the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and elsewhere.

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Star-of-Bethlehem is a bulbous plant. It grows well in deciduous woods and grasslands, as long as the vegetation is not too thick and the soil is rich in nutrients, damp but not too wet. Star-of-Bethlehem is not a stinsen plant, unlike its close relative drooping star-of-Bethlehem. However it also grows well in environments where true stinsen plants grow. It arrived on Texel along with snowdrop bulbs from France.
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Comprehensive Description

Comments

The Star-of-Bethlehem is a surprisingly aggressive little plant with attractive flowers. Key features include the spreading racemes of erect flowers, and the triangular or lanceolate filaments underneath the anthers. These filaments are erect and surround the pistil. Other members of the Lily family that are somewhat similar in appearance include the Allium spp. (Onions) and Nothoscordum bivalve (False Garlic). However, False Garlic and the various species of Onions have umbels of flowers and the filaments of their flowers are thread-like. Another cultivated plant, Ornithogalum nutans (Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem), rarely escapes into the wild. It has nodding flowers on elongated racemes and each of its filaments have a pair of small teeth at the apex. The pedicels of this latter species are usually ½" or less.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This introduced perennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about 1' across. These linear leaves are about 6-12" long and ¼" across. They curve upward from the base and bend downward around the middle. There is often a white stripe in the middle of each leaf, which has smooth margins and parallel venation. From the center of the rosette, there develops one or more flowering stalks about 6-9" tall. Each stalk terminates in a cyme-like raceme of white flowers. This raceme is rather short and spreading. The lower pedicels are 1-3" long, while the upper pedicels are somewhat shorter. Both the basal leaves and flowering stalks are hairless.  Each flower is about 1" across when fully open, consisting of 6 white tepals, 6 stamens, and a single pistil. Each tepal is lanceolate-oblong; there is a green stripe along its outer side. A stamen has a yellow or light brown anther at its apex, and a white filament underneath. This filament is lanceolate or narrowly triangular in shape (tapering at the top), which is a distinctive characteristic for this species. The blooming period occurs during the late spring and lasts about 2 weeks. There is a pleasant floral scent. The flowers open during the morning and usually close by noon. Each flower is replaced by a 3-celled seed capsule containing several black seeds. The root system consists of a bulb about 1" long that is ovoid. This plant reproduces by its seeds and vegetative offsets (primarily the latter). It often forms dense colonies that can exclude other species during the spring. Cultivation
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The Star-of-Bethlehem naturalizes occasionally in southern, central, and NE Illinois, but it is less common in the NW area of the state (see Distribution Map). It is often cultivated in flowerbeds, from which it occasionally escapes. Habitats include cemetery prairies, grassy meadows, sunny or semi-shaded banks of streams and drainage ditches, and miscellaneous waste areas. This species is usually found in degraded sites, although it can invade high quality natural habitats and displace native species of plants that bloom during the spring. The Star-of-Bethlehem is native to eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East; it was introduced into the United States as an ornamental plant. Faunal Associations
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution and Habitat in the United States

Nodding star-of-Bethlehem occurs in scattered locations in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast and mid-Atlantic and has been reported to be invasive in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is adapted to floodplains, fields, waste places, abandoned gardens and grows in full sun to partial shade. Sleepydick is more widespread and has been reported to be invasive in at least 10 states from Wisconsin to Connecticut south to Tennessee and Virginia.

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Origin

Europe (Ukraine, Bulgaria and Greece) and Asia (Turkey)

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Ornithogalum umbellatum L.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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introduced; B.C., N.B., Nfld. and Labr.(Nfld.), N.S., Ont., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis.; Europe; n Africa; Asia; Middle East; expected elsewhere.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Native to the Mediterranean region. Ornithogalum umbellatum is globally widesprea but not so common in its native North Africa as well as Europe. In Europe, it is found from Portugal and Spain in the west, south to Italy, north to parts of France and east to Turkey (Rhoades and Block, 2000).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description and Biology

  • Plant: bulbous herbaceous annual to 20 in. in height (nodding star-of-Bethlehem) or 12 in. (sleepydick).
  • Leaves: basal, linear, narrow, and succulent with parallel veins, 0.3-0.6 in. wide (nodding); grasslike and less than ¼ in. wide (sleepydick).
  • Flowers, fruits and seeds: flower is a “perianth” consisting of 6 petal-like structures called tepals that are white with a wide central green stripe on the outer or underside; flowers occur in racemes; fruits are 3-angled-capsules which are broadly ovoid.
  • Spreads: by bulbils and seeds.
  • Look-alikes: other spring-flowering herbaceous bulbous plants.

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Description

Plants (10–)20–30(–40) cm; bulbs renewed each year, 1–2 × 1–2.5(–3.5) cm; bulblets numerous. Leaves 4–6(–9); blade with white adaxial stripe, 20–30 cm × 3–5(–8) mm. Scape 1–3 dm. Inflorescences corymbose, (4–)8–20-flowered, flat-topped; bracts to 4 cm. Flowers erect; perianth opening flat or bowl-shaped in sun, closing at night, remaining closed on cloudy days; tepals white with wide green abaxial stripe, lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 15–22(–30) × 7–8 mm; stamens: outer 5–7 × 2–3 mm, inner 6–8 × 2–3 mm; filaments simple, flattened; anthers 2–4 mm; ovary ovoid to obovoid, strongly 6-angled, 5–6 mm; style 3–4 mm; lower pedicels 2–6 cm. Capsules oblong-ovoid. 2n = 18, 20, 27, 28, 35, 36, 42, 44, 45, 54, 72, 90, 108.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The Star-of-Bethlehem naturalizes occasionally in southern, central, and NE Illinois, but it is less common in the NW area of the state (see Distribution Map). It is often cultivated in flowerbeds, from which it occasionally escapes. Habitats include cemetery prairies, grassy meadows, sunny or semi-shaded banks of streams and drainage ditches, and miscellaneous waste areas. This species is usually found in degraded sites, although it can invade high quality natural habitats and displace native species of plants that bloom during the spring. The Star-of-Bethlehem is native to eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East; it was introduced into the United States as an ornamental plant. Faunal Associations
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Roadsides, open forests, waste places, dumps; 0--1500m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ornithogalum umbellatum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Considered "rare and endangered" in its native range, the Mediterranean region (DeMars 1994). However, a problem exotic weed in Europe, North America, and Australia.

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Threats

Comments: Threatened by habitat destruction in its native range in the Mediterranean (Mezev-Krichfalushii 1991 cited by DeMars 1994).

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Management

Prevention and Control

Be on the lookout for it and dig it up as soon as it is noticed. Most of the time, the bulbs will be extremely deep.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Ecological Threat in the United States

Once established, it spreads across the forest floor and displaces many species of native spring ephemeral plants.

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Wikipedia

Ornithogalum umbellatum

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star-of-Bethlehem, Grass Lily, Nap-at-Noon, Eleven-o'clock Lady), is a perennial bulbous flowering plant, native throughout most of southern and central Europe (north to Austria and Belgium), and in northwestern Africa and southwestern Asia.[1] In North America, it has escaped its cultivation as a garden ornamental and can be found in many areas.[2]

Contents

Description

This plant is perennial with bulbs below ground; the bulb is 15-25 mm long and 18-32 mm diameter. It has six to ten leaves, linear with a white line on upper surface, up to 30 cm long and 8 mm broad, and a scape of 10-30 cm. The flowers group in a corymbose raceme with 6-20 flowers, and are white with a green stripe outside.[3][4]

Cultivation

O. umbellatum require a lot of moisture during winter & spring, but tolerate summer droughtiness. It can be grown in the woodland garden. Semi-shade is preferable. It is hardy to hardiness zone 5, and can become weedy. The plant is toxic. Used in some herbal remedies.[5][6]

Gallery

References

  1. ^ Euro+Med Plantbase: Ornithogalum umbellatum
  2. ^ "Ornithogalum umbellatum Linnaeus". Flora of North America. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242101813. 
  3. ^ Flora of NW Europe: Ornithogalum umbellatum
  4. ^ Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2.
  5. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  6. ^ Purdue University vet school toxicity description
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Notes

Comments

Planted as a garden ornamental, Ornithogalum umbellatum produces many offsetting bulblets that are transported in soil and can become rampant weeds. Adding to the vegetative vigor of this species may be its aneuploid-polyploid karyology (T. W. J. Gadella and L. van Raamsdonk 1981; L. van Raamsdonk 1984). The flowers are noteworthy for their regularity in opening just before noon and closing again before sunset. 

 Two digitalis-like glycosides, convallatoxin and convalloside, poisonous to humans and livestock, are found throughout the plant, but are concentrated in the bulbs and the flowers (W. H. Blackwell 1990; K. F. Lampe and M. A. McCann 1985; D. G. Spoerke Jr. and S. C. Smolinske 1990).

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