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Ornithogalum

From The Plant Encyclopedia

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Ornithogalum narbonense

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Ornithogalum

Category
Kingdom Plantae
Division
Class
Order Asparagales
Family Hyacinthaceae
Species in this genus
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About

Ornithogalum is a genus of perennial plants mostly native to southern Europe and southern Africa[1] belonging to the family Hyacinthaceae. There are some species native to other areas such as the Caucasus.[2] Growing from a bulb, it has grass-like basal leaves and a slender stalk, up to 30 cm tall, bearing clusters of star-shaped white flowers striped with green. There are numerous members of the genus, of which O. umbellatum is perhaps the best-known:

O. arabicum (Star-of-Bethlehem)
O. dubium (Sun Star)
O. longibracteatum (Pregnant Onion/False Sea Onion)
O. maculatum (Snake Flower)
O. narbonense (Pyramidal Star-of-Bethlehem)
O. nutans (Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem)
O. pyrenaicum (Bath Asparagus/Prussian Asparagus/Spiked Star-of-Bethlehem)
O. umbellatum (Common Star-of-Bethlehem)
O. thyroides (Chincherinchee)

Because of its star-shaped flowers, it is named for the Star of Bethlehem that appeared in the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus.

Other species of Ornithogalum include:

O. britteniae[3]
Ornithogalum neurostegium
O. canadense
O. clanwilliamae-gloria
O. conicum
O. cooperi
O. flaccidum
O. fragrans
O. graminifolium
O. imbricatum
O. strictum

Toxicity

Some of the plants in the genus are poisonous, and have been known to kill grazing animals. Others are edible and used as vegetables. These flowers' bulbs contain alkaloids and cardenolides,[1] which are toxic.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ornithogalum Linnaeus". Flora of North America. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=123199. 
  2. "Ornithogalum L.". Ornamental Plants From Russia And Adjacent States Of The Former Soviet Union. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=120&taxon_id=123199. 
  3. AP Dold (2003). "The rediscovery of Ornithogalum britteniae (Hyacinthaceae) and an amendment to the description". South African Journal of Botany 69 (4): 500–504. http://www.ajol.info/viewarticle.php?id=12306&jid=118&layout=abstract 

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