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Ornithogalum

Family: Liliaceae
Common name: Star-of-Bethlehem

Origin: South Africa

Flower color: white

Flowering period: June - October

Average plant height: depends on the type

Planting depth to base of bulbs: 2 – 4 inches

Spacing between bulbs: 3 – 5 inches

Type of bulb: true bulb                     

Light requirements: sunny and moist (afternoon sun)

Landscape uses: beds, sometimes used in borders and perennial gardens. All types are very suitable for cut flower production. They have a long vase life.

Name

One of the common names for one of these species, O. thyrsoides, is Chincherinchee. This is an African word refers to the noise-making properties of O. thyrsoides seed pods when dried. Ornithogalum can be divided into two groups: those that are winter hardy and those that are not winter hardy. Those that are not winter hardy are the bulbs that are planted in spring, such as O. arabicum (height 32 inches), O. saundersiae (height 40 inches) and O. thyrsoides (height 14 inches). O. arabicum and O. saundersiae have an umbel-shaped, cream-colored inflorescence; O. thyrsoides has a pyramid-shaped cluster of flowers. Another characteristic that sets O. arabicum apart is its black ovary.

Different varieties

There are about 150 different species, but the most important are: 

  • Ornithogalum arabicum 
  • Ornithogalum saundersiae 
  • Ornithogalum thyrsoides (Chincherinchee)
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