Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum umbellatum is a poisonous plant

Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum umbellatum
Family - Asparagaceae
Also known as - Sleepy Dick, Doves Dung

This plant is poisonous

A small non-native herbaceous perennial growing to approx. 25cm (10in) tall from clusters of small bulbs.  Narrow shiny dark green strap like basal leaves resembling Wild Garlic but without the smell.  White clustered star shaped flowers 2-3cm (0.8-1.2in) across appearing April to early June, consist of six narrow petals with a green stripe on the underside, fruiting to a three sided capsule containing oval black seeds.  An introduced species found in moist wooded areas, fields, hedgerows, roadsides, gardens and lawns over most of the Eastern US, UK, Europe and Asia, originating, it is thought from North Africa.

All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, especially the bulbs producing toxic cardiac glycoside similar to foxglove (Digitalis).  Bulbs are NOT EDIBLE even when cooked, which is contrary to some sources.  Affects mainly cattle, sheep, horses, any grazing animal, occasionally reported cases of children eating the leaves and flowers.  Symptoms Nausea, salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, abnormal heart rate.  Can lead to fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum umbellatum, click for a larger image Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum umbellatum flower, click for a larger image Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum umbellatum habit, click for a larger image
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Photos ©2004

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