DROOPING STAR-OF-BETHLEHEM

Ornithogalum nutans

(Formerly: Honorius nutans)
Asparagus Family [Asparagaceae]

month8apr month8april month8may

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8white
dull
inner
inner8green
dull
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ6
tepals
type
typeZspiked
short
type
typeZtrumpet
wide
stem
stem8round
 
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 
sex
sexZbisexual
 

~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
Growing up to 60cm high amidst one of the Bedstraw plants. There are between 2 and 12 flowers on any one stem.


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
The 6 tepals are between 15 and 30mm long and are an off-white colour with a dirty-green broad central strip on the outerside (which is faintly visible from the innerside). The opening flowers erect themselves at an elevated angle; the as-yet unopened flowers are bent downwards on short petioles (flower stalks). There are white and brown patterned isosceles triangular bracts just beneath those petioles. These bracts are longer than the flower stalks.


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem also seems to be the only Star-of-Bethlehem which has a long cylindrical centre. This tapers a little and has 6 short teeth around the end. This tapering cylinder has within it the sexual organs. There also seem to be 3 shorter white bracts(?) [they could be petals(?) - since it has 6 tepals] surrounding this central tube (but only one is clearly visible here, and is about half as long as the central tube it hugs closely).


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
The stem is round and hairless, as is the whole plant.


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
[Any green stems which are not round belong to other species of plants].


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
The all-white sexual organs within the central tube can hardly be discerned.


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
The tepals all emerge from one circle around the (short) petiole - they are not in two close whorls as 3 tepals and 3 petals would be. The dull-green stripe on the outside of each tepal avoids the edges, and is patterned reminiscent of fingerprints, albeit mostly horizontal.


~ Mid April, near woods, Lincoln. Photo: © Bruce Whetton
A close-up of the dull-green marks on the tepals shows that they are hozizontal striations.


Uniquely identifiable characteristics - for a Star-of-Bethlehem.

Distinguishing Feature : Even the open flowers droop, those not yet open hang vertically downwards near the stem. It also has a long central tube containing the sexual organs within.

No relation to : Flower () [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

Like other Ornithogalum species it contains toxic steroidal glycosides similar to those of digitalis in Foxglove, with the highest concentrations being within the bulbs under ground level. Seventeen differing cardenolide-type glycosides have been found in this particular species. They contained glycosides based upon the following sugar moieties: Digitoxose, Allose, Rhamnose, Xylose or Apiose. The steroidal part of the steroidal glycosides are variously based upon Uzarigenin, Gitoxygenin, Cardenolide and Oleandrigenin. In total 19 cardenolides were found within the plant. Specifically, some of the cardenolides were found to be Strophanthidin, Sarmentosigenin, Sarmentogenin, Bipindogenin and Syriogenin plus several others with much longer chemical names.

It is neophyte grown in gardens which occasionally escapes and naturalises in woods or hedge-banks.

Unseen in the photographs the leaves are linear in shape (long and narrow) and with a broadish grey-green stripe down the centre.


  Ornithogalum nutans  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asparagaceae  

Distribution
 family8Asparagus family8Asparagaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Ornithogalum
Ornithogalum
(Star-of-Bethlehems)

DROOPING STAR-OF-BETHLEHEM

Ornithogalum nutans

(Formerly: Honorius nutans)
Asparagus Family [Asparagaceae]