Star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum umbellatum
Asparagaceae, Asparagus family
Star of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem
And there was a great famine in Samar′ia, as they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.
2 Kings 6:25 RSV
Star of Bethlehem
he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
2 Corinthians 1:10 RSV

Cultural Information

TypePerennial
Height12 inches
Soilaverage, well-drained recommended
Exposurefull sun
Leavesmonocot, slender, grass-like with pronounced white-striped, central rib, to 12 inches long, deep green
Flowerswhite, six-petaled, symmetrical around center ovary and stamens, multiple blooms clustered at top of central stem

Planting Tips

  • zone 5 or warmer; may not return in warmer climates
  • plant from small, rounded bulbs in fall for spring flowering
  • spacing may vary depending on the desired effect, generally 4 to 6 inches apart
  • several flowers will bloom on one stem
  • grass-like leaves appear in spring before flower buds
  • blooming time lasts about 3-5 weeks
  • blooming time lasts about 3-5 weeks
  • works well planted in pots, which helps with invasive spreading

Garden to Table

  • grow star of Bethlehem in your garden for a supply of small flowers for diminuitive displays
  • try one or two stems in reused vanilla jars
  • cut individual blossoms to rest in shallow antique salt cellars
  • alternately, enjoy many Ornithogalum species available at florists to keep the flowers from invading your yard
  • some varieties have black anthers, some grow in a more spired-fashion, with flowers closely packed up the stem
  • while in the stressed economy of 2 Kings 6, citizens ground the bulbs into flour for a far stretch of bread-making, it is not reccomended to eat the flowers or bulbs 

Additional Resources

See Blog Posts on Star of Bethlehem
This horticultural detail amplified the starving conditions the people in Samaria faced in the grip of enemy siege and its outrageous effect on their economy and resources (2 Kings 6:24 – 25). Mention of this little star flower pointed to Samaria’s citizens’ need to be rescued and to have the kind of faith in God’s deliverance exemplified in their ancestor King David of Bethlehem.
-from the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible
Star of Bethlehem
he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
2 Corinthians 1:10 RSV

Photo Credits

©2019 Shelley S. Cramm star of Bethlehem in a Texas garden
©2019 Shelley S. Cramm close up of the starry flower
©2019 Shelley S. Cramm detail of hotel lobby flower arrangements, star of Bethlehem stealing the show!
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