SPRING STARFLOWER

Tristagma uniflorum

(Formerly: Ipheion uniflorum)
Onion & Garlic Family [Alliaceae]

month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8may

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8multicolour
 
flower
flower8lilac
 
flower
flower8indigo
outer
flower
flower8brown
outer
flower
flower8green
outer
inner
inner8yellow
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ6
(3+3)
type
typeZtrumpet
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8sweet
sweet
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 

5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Of the many garden escapees, Starflower seems to be one which spreads more readily than most, at least on the Sefton Coast.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
They grow from a bulb which smells of garlic when crushed. The leaves are linear with a slightly inwardly-curved cross-section to make them stiffer. With pale-blue merging-white star-like flowers.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The flowers are solitary, each on their own long stems.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The flowers, which grow up to 35cm high, are at the top of their solitary brownish stalks/stems and initially flare out like a trumpet before spreading their petals wide in a plane.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
From the front they have decidedly 3 petals surrounded by 3 tepals behind them, arranged into an actinomorphic 6-pointed star-like shape. They are without a central corona (no daffodil-like trumpet sticking out). They are actinomorphic but less symmetrical than most other actinomorphic plants. The flowers are 30 to 45mm across.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Like the Periwinkle flower, there is a deep well in the centre where the sexual organs congregate.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Petal shape seems to vary from near-oval to bluntly-pointed oval to cuspidately (but bluntly) pointed. This specimen with cuspidate petals.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Six stamens with yellow anthers are crowded amongst the pale-green stigma in the deep central tubular well (perianth tube). The stamens stop short of going beyond the opening.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Not visible from the front, but the rear of each petaloid has a narrow, axial, purple to indigo line which continues through along the central tubular well (perianth tube) which can be seen from the side. The well (perianth tube) is 12-16mm long and tapers to the rear before becoming a purple-brown petiole with joins the slightly thicker single stem. It is at this join that two long papery-thin sheaths each side emerge. These two sheaths are very long (for their width) and translucent white with narrow deep-purple stripes.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Here the stem, petiole and perianthe tube flare gradually before abruptly widening, just like a trombone. The paper-thin sheaths are still tightly wrapped around the petiole here. [Some leaves here are those of grasses, the broader one at the bottom belongs to Starflower]


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Here the white with deep-purple striped sheaths are parting from the petiole. This flower not so menacingly aggressive as the previous one! From the rear the three tepals form the perianth tube whilst the three inner petals are only visible from their extremities.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The perianth tubes with 3 tepals which partially obscure the lower halves of the three petals.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The parting sheaths.


5th April 2018, old dunes, Blundellsands, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Although superficially similar to the leaves of grasses, they are fleshier than grasses and without the keel down the centreline of the obverse side (which grasses often use for stiffness). Lacking too is the slight W-zig-zag cross-section which some grasses also use for stiffness in the face of adversity.


Not to be semantically confused with : Star-of-Persia (Allium cristophii), Water Starworts (Callitriche agg.), Star Sedge (Carex echinata), Red Star-Thistle (Centaurea calcitrapa), Starwort Mouse-ear (Cerastium cerastoides), Starry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster astrophoros), Starfruit (Damasonium alisma), Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum ssp. campestre), < (), Starry Stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa), Starry Saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris), Starry Stonecrop (edum stellatum), Starry Clover (Trifolium stellatum) or any other star such as the Pole Star (Polaris), Star Wars (a film), Ringo Starr (a Beetle) or Brian Eno (a pop star) [which all have similar names]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The flower shape and colour.

It contains the poisonous Steroidal Sapogenins Tigogenin, NeoTigogenin and 4 others with very long chemical names. The flowers also smell of a mild spicy fragrance due in part to the presence of many organosulfur compounds amongst themn is Allylpropyldisulfide, DiallylDisulphide and AllylMethylSulfide which are used in flavourings for food (perhaps in cheese and onion flavour crisps or onion-smash?)

The flowers smell sweet. This is an introduced and naturalised plant, which spreads more readily than many others (at least compared with many other introduced and naturalised plants on the Sefton Coast, with the exception of Sea-Buckthorn and several others which are spreading like wildfire there, to the exclusion and detriment of native species). It is a weed of waste or cultivated land on sandy ground. It occurs naturalised in West Cornwall, Scilly Islands and Channel Islands and isn't doing too badly on some parts of the Sefton Coast.


  Tristagma uniflorum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Alliaceae  

Distribution
 family8Onion & Garlic family8Alliaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Tristagma
Tristagma
(Starflowers)

SPRING STARFLOWER

Tristagma uniflorum

(Formerly: Ipheion uniflorum)
Onion & Garlic Family [Alliaceae]