Saturday, May 16, 2009


Star-of-Bethlehem from the Lily family (Liliaceae) (Latin Name: Ornithogalum umbellatum) are such a sweet flower. According to the Illinois Wildflower site, 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. This introduced perennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about 1" across. These linear leaves are about 6-12" long and 1/4" 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.

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. Each flower is replaced by a 3 celled seed capsule containing several black seeds.

My favorite characteristic of the flower is that it opens during the morning and usually closses by noon. Such chutzpah to preserve her beauty for a few hours only for the early risers.

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