(Ornithogalum umbellatum) Lily family

Flowers - Opening in the sunshine, white within, greenish on the

outside, veined, borne on slender pedicels in an erect, loose

cluster. Perianth of 6 narrowly oblong divisions, 1/2 in. long or

over, or about twice as long as the flattened stamens; style

short, 3-sided. Scape: Slender, 4 to 12 in. high, with narrow,

blade-like bracts above. Leaves: Narrow, grass-like with white

midvein, fleshy, all from coated, egg-shaped bulb.

Preferred Habitat - Moist, grassy meadows, old lawns. Flowering

Season - May-June.

Distribution - Escaped from gardens from Massachusetts to


The finding of these exquisite little flowers, growing wild among

the lush grass of a meadow not far from some old homestead where

their ancestors, with crocuses and grape hyacinths, once

brightened the lawn in early spring, makes one long to start a

Parkinson Society instantly. Some school children not far from

New York, receiving their inspiration from Mrs. Ewing's little

book, "Mary's Meadow," have spread the gospel of beauty, like the

true missionaries they are, by systematically planting in lanes

and fields sweet violets, golden coreopsis, hardy poppies, blue

corn-flowers, Japanese roses, orange day-lilies, larkspurs, and

many other charming garden flowers that need only the slightest

encouragement to run wild. Immense quantities of seed, that go to

loss in every garden, might so easily be sprinkled at large on

our walks. Nearly all the beautiful hardy perennials cultivated

here grow in Nature's garden in Europe or Asia, and will do so in

America if they are but given the chance. The Star of Bethlehem

is a case in point. Several members of the large group of

charming spring flowers to which it belongs grow in such

abundance in the Old World that for centuries the bulbs have

furnished food to the omnivorous Italian and Asiatic peasants. If

we cannot spare offsets from the garden, and will wait a few

years for seeds to bear, the rich, light loam of our grassy

meadows, too, will be streaked with a Milky Way of floral stars,

as they are in Italy.

The Greek generic name of the Star of Bethlehem, meaning "bird's

milk" (a popular folk expression in Europe for some marvellous

thing) was applied by Linnaeus because of the flower's likeness

to the wonderful star in the East which guided the Wise Men to

the manger where Jesus lay.