Ornithogalum – Star-of-Bethlehem –
There are about 80 species of spring to summer flowering bulbous perennial in this genus. They occur from dry, rocky hillsides to meadows and woodland, in Central and Southern Europe, the Mediterranean,, former USSR, Western and Southwestern Asia, and tropical Africa, and South Africa. Grown for their corymb like racemes of often star, cup shaped, occasionally scented flowers, usually white, sometimes yellow or orange, they are held on leafless stems. The leaves are basal, and vary from linear to obovate, often with a silver stripe down the center. Smaller species are suitable for a rock garden, taller ones for a herbaceous border. In ideal growing conditions, O. nutans and O, montanum, may become invasive but, as with O. montanum, may be suitable for naturalizing in short turf or beneath shrubs. All parts may cause severe discomfort if ingested, and the sap may irritate skin.
Plant bulbs 4″ deep. Outdoors, plant hardy species in autumn, in moderately fertile, well drained soil, in a sunny situation. Plant tender species in spring for summer flowering, in growth water freely and lift after flowering, keep frost free over winter.
Prone to leaf spot and rust.
O. umbellatum – Dove’s Dung – Common-star-of-Bethlehem – This bulbous perennial from Europe, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Northern Africa grows 4-12″ tall. It produces semi erect, linear, white veined, mid green, basal leaves, to 12″ long, each with a central silver stripe above, the leaves wither as the flowers open in early summer. It bears star shaped white flowers, 3/4′ across, striped green outside. Increases rapidly and is often invasive in lawns and borders, tolerate partial shade.