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Common Names: Star-of-Bethlehem, grass lily, nap-at-noon, eleven-o’clock lady
Habitat : Ornithogalum umbellatum is native throughout most of southern and central Europe, north-western Africa and south-western Asia.
Ornithogalum umbellatum is a perennial bulbous flowering plant with bulbs below ground; the bulb is 15–25 millimetres (0.6–1.0 in) long and 18–32 mm (0.7–1.3 in) in diameter. It has 6–10 leaves, linear with a white line on the upper surface, up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 8 mm (0.3 in) broad, and a scape of 10–30 cm (4–12 in). The flowers group in a corymbose raceme with 6–20 flowers, and are white with a green stripe outside.
The leaves are long and narrow and darkgreen; the flowers, in bloom during April and May, are a brilliant white internally, but with the petals striped with green outside. They expand only in the sunshine.
umbellatum requires considerable moisture during winter and spring, but can tolerate summer drought. It can be grown in a woodland garden as semi-shade is preferable. It is hardy to hardiness zone 5, and can become weedy. The plant is toxic.
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/October. 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
The bulbs, in common with those of many Liliaceous plants, are edible and nutritious. They were in ancient times eaten, both raw and cooked, as Dioscorides related, and form a palatable and wholesome food when boiled.
Ornithogalum umbellatum is used in some herbal remedies. 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”.
Known hazards: 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.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider