Star of Bethlehem – Identification

Q: This is a flower that has come up in my bed. Could you please help me identify it?

A: It’s called Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum. Although the flowers are pretty. Some folks consider the plant a weed in their lawns. It does not produce many seed but it makes dozens of bulblets underground next to the main bulb. These bulblets are scattered by animals and by tilling, resulting in their spread to many places where they are not wanted.

Admire if you want, but be careful….herbicides are not very effective so digging out the plant is the best control.

But check out this herbicide experiment done in Tennessee

Halosulfuron is “Sedgehammer”.
Imazaquin is “Image for Nutgrass”.

If a person were to choose to break the law and ignore the label, I think they would be well advised to make no more than two applications of herbicide per season to see if control could be achieved in three years.

Alternatively, you could spray the leaves with glyphosate for three years to gradually eliminate the bulbs.

NOTE: astute and observant gardener Bobby Wynn points out that Star of Bethlehem has six petaled flowers but a similar plant, spring beauty, Claytonia virginica, has only five petals.

See Star of Bethlehem


  • Advertisement