Peter C. Gorman via Flickr (O. nutans)

Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem

Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem - Ornithogalum nutans L.
Sleepydick - Ornithogalum umbellatum L.
Lily family (Liliaceae)

Origin: Europe (Ukraine, Bulgaria and Greece) and Asia (Turkey)

Also called drooping star-of-Bethlehem, this species was introduced for ornamental purposes and is widely cultivated. A diminutive close relative (O. umbellatum), known as sleepydick, nap-at-noon, and common star-of-Bethlehem, is native to northern Africa, western Asia and Europe, and was also introduced as an ornamental plant. It has been reported to be invasive in the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and elsewhere.

Distribution and Habitat
Nodding star-of-Bethlehem occurs in scattered locations in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast and mid-Atlantic and has been reported to be invasive in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is adapted to floodplains, fields, waste places, abandoned gardens and grows in full sun to partial shade. Sleepydick is more widespread and has been reported to be invasive in at least 10 states from Wisconsin to Connecticut south to Tennessee and Virginia.

Ecological Threat
Once established, it spreads across the forest floor and displaces many species of native spring ephemeral plants.

Description and Biology

Prevention and Control
Be on the lookout for it and dig it up as soon as it is noticed. Most of the time, the bulbs will be extremely deep (see Control Options).

Native Alternatives
Many native wild flower species are available including bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis),Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), wild ginger (Asarum canadense), may apple (Podophyllum peltatum).


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Last updated:11-Nov-2010