The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Star Of Bethlehem
Ornithogalum umbellatum is a Bulb up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
Skin contact with the bulb can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[
]. The bulb contains alkaloids and is poisonous[
]. Another report says that the bulb is poisonous to grazing animals[
Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to the Mediterranean.
Grassy places in eastern England[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in an ordinary garden soil[
]. Tolerates partial shade[
Hardy to about -20°c[
]. The dormant bulbs are very hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -10°c[
A very ornamental plant[
], but it can be invasive where conditions suit it[
]. It can be naturalized in short turf or thin grass below shrubs[
], though this should not be mown from the time the bulbs start to grow until they have set seed and the leaves are dying down.
Bulb - raw or cooked[
]. The bulbs can be dried and ground into a powder[
]. Whilst the bulbs are palatable and wholesome according to some reports[
], some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity.
Flowers - baked in bread[
A homeopathic remedy is made from the bulbs[
]. It is useful in the treatment of certain forms of cancer[
The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'After effect of shock, mental or physical'[
]. It is also one of the five ingredients in the 'Rescue remedy'[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. Sow the seed thinly and leave the seedlings undisturbed in the pots for their first dormancy, but apply liquid feed at intervals, especially in their second year of growth. Divide the bulbs at the end of their second year of growth, putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on for one more year and them plant them out into their permanent positions whilst they are dormant. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in early spring.
Division of offsets in September/early autumn[
]. The larger bulbs can be replanted immediately into their permanent positions. It is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on for a year before planting them out when dormant in late summer.