Our Monthly Flower Spotlight for November highlights the Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). This six-petaled, white perennial blooms in a traditional star shape and belongs to the Hyacinthaceae, or lily, family of flowers. Its name is rooted in Biblical traditions, and throughout the years it has become a symbol of purity, hope, and happiness. It also has its share of controversies surrounding both its invasiveness in the United States and its historical use in folk medicine.
Origins and History of the Star of Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem is native to Northern Africa and Eurasia, although it has spread to the United States and across the globe through its use in ornamental gardens. Related to garlic and onions, it propagates aggressively through bulbs with tufts of grass like leaves giving way to small clusters of white flowers throughout the late spring and early summer. Blooms on the flowers open every morning at sunrise and close each evening at dusk.
The scientific name of the Star of Bethlehem is translated from the Greek word Ornithogalum, which means “bird’s milk flower.” Other names for the Star of Bethlehem include dove’s dung, sleepydick, nap-at-noon, field onions, wonder flower and Arabian flower. And don't laugh, but here at Enchanted Florist and in flower land, we just call them SOBs.
Meanings and Symbolism of the Star of Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem derives its name from the Biblical star cited in the story of Jesus Christ and is believed to be the bulb referred to in the Bible as “dove’s dung.” For that reason, along with its pure white color, it has traditionally come to symbolize purity, innocence, honesty, hope, and forgiveness. Flower arrangements for Christian religious ceremonies, such as marriages, baptisms, christenings, and funerals, frequently include Star of Bethlehems, although the flowers serve as a striking addition to arrangements for any event, including birthdays, holidays and romantic occasions.
Star of Bethlehem Controversies
The USDA Forest Service classifies the Star of Bethlehem as an invasive plant and cautions that not only should it not be planted, but that it should also be eliminated when possible. Although it has been marketed for ornamental gardening, it poses a threat to native species in the U.S. It is quick to spread outside the edges of flowerbeds and can rapidly take over lawns, pastures and other areas where it is unwanted.
November Flower Spotlight: The Star of Bethlehem
Folk medicine made use of the Star of Bethlehem as a treatment for a variety of maladies. It was used to ease labor pains and to elevate a person's mood, to name two. However, modern scientific research has revealed the plant to have an unsafe level of toxicity for ingestion by humans and livestock. Although it is still used by some herbalists, most doctors, researchers and scientists strongly caution against ingesting any part of the plant, particularly its bulbs and leaves.
Star of Belthlehem Today
Although it has its share of controversies, the striking color and shape of the Star of Bethlehem make it a beautiful addition to any arrangement for every occasion. We use these beautiful flowers primarily in the winter and esepecially for Christmas flowers. In addition, because of their dainty stature, Star of Bethlehem's work well in wedding boquets and wedding body flowers like corsages and boutonnieres. Contact us today to learn more about our November spotlight flower, Star of Bethlehem and how we can create a beautiful bouquet of flowers for delivery in Pasadena, TX.
4416 Fairmont #104
Pasadena, TX 77504
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