Ornithogalum umbellatum - L.
Common Name Star Of Bethlehem, Dove's Dung
Family Liliaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards Skin contact with the bulb can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[65]. The bulb contains alkaloids and is poisonous[2, 62]. Another report says that the bulb is poisonous to grazing animals[183].
Habitats Grassy places in eastern England[5, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to the Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring. Form: Upright or erect.

Ornithogalum umbellatum Star Of Bethlehem, Dove

Ornithogalum umbellatum Star Of Bethlehem, Dove
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of bulb
Ornithogalum umbellatum is a BULB growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


 Meadow; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Bulb - raw or cooked[2, 5, 46, 61, 183]. The bulbs can be dried and ground into a powder[207]. Whilst the bulbs are palatable and wholesome according to some reports[2, 4, 115], some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity. Flowers - baked in bread[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


A homeopathic remedy is made from the bulbs[4]. It is useful in the treatment of certain forms of cancer[4]. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'After effect of shock, mental or physical'[209]. It is also one of the five ingredients in the 'Rescue remedy'[209].


Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, succeeding in an ordinary garden soil[1, 42]. Tolerates partial shade[200]. Hardy to about -20°c[200]. The dormant bulbs are very hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -10°c[214]. A very ornamental plant[1], but it can be invasive where conditions suit it[200]. It can be naturalized in short turf or thin grass below shrubs[200], 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. Special Features:Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. 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/October[200]. 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.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Ornithogalum narbonenseStar Of Bethlehem10
Ornithogalum pyrenaicumBath Asparagus, Pyrenees star of Bethlehem20


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Readers comment
Riccardo Boeri   Sun May 6 2007

Poisonous plant This site say that "Bulbs are NOT EDIBLE contrary to some sources."

Doris Barnard   Sat Nov 15 2008
I have taken the Bach rescue pastilles for a week to help IBS, and whether it is a placebo effect or not, my symptoms which I think were of nervous origin, have disappeared. DB Scotland.
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Subject : Ornithogalum umbellatum  

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