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Sleepydick Ornithogalum umbellatum


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© Thomas Bentley

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Alternate name: Star-of-Bethlehem

Family: Liliaceae, Lily view all from this family

Description Introduced. A small lily with grassy, often lax leaves and white, 6-petaled flowers that can spread in weedy profusion.
Flowers: 1 1/4" (3 cm) wide, in erect, branched, open clusters; petals lance-shaped, white above, with green central stripe below.
Leaves: basal, thin, grasslike, to 12" (30 cm) long, 1/8" (3 mm) wide; white stripe down center of upper side of leaf.
Height: 4-12" (10-30 cm).

Warning Flowers, bulbs, and possibly all plant parts contain compounds similar to digitalis and are poisonous if consumed. Ingestion may cause shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting; animals ingesting this plant have been blinded and fatally poisoned. Humans and pets should not consume any parts of this plant.

Flower May-June.

Habitat Disturbed areas, roadsides, open woods.

Range Native of Eurasia and northern Africa; naturalized in areas of North America, especially in the East.

Discussion Sleepydick, also called Star-of-Bethlehem, was introduced to North America as a garden plant but has escaped from cultivation, especially in the eastern United States, although there are also reports in the West. It is classified as a noxious or invasive pest in many areas. Plants spread by the formation of numerous bulblets. Flowers open at midday and close at dusk; they remain closed on overcast days.