Ornithogalum umbellatum - L.
Common Star-of-Bethlehem
Other English Common Names: Star-of-Bethlehem
Other Common Names: star of Bethlehem
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ornithogalum umbellatum L. (TSN 42754)
French Common Names: ornithogale en ombelle
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.130811
Element Code: PMLIL1N030
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Ornithogalum
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ornithogalum umbellatum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2006
Global Status Last Changed: 22Nov1994
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Considered "rare and endangered" in its native range, the Mediterranean region (DeMars 1994). However, a problem exotic weed in Europe, North America, and Australia.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (13Nov2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Native to the Mediterranean region. Ornithogalum umbellatum is globally widesprea but not so common in its native North Africa as well as Europe. In Europe, it is found from Portugal and Spain in the west, south to Italy, north to parts of France and east to Turkey (Rhoades and Block, 2000).

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: Considered rare in native range; a problem exotic weed in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threatened by habitat destruction in its native range in the Mediterranean (Mezev-Krichfalushii 1991 cited by DeMars 1994).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Native to the Mediterranean region. Ornithogalum umbellatum is globally widesprea but not so common in its native North Africa as well as Europe. In Europe, it is found from Portugal and Spain in the west, south to Italy, north to parts of France and east to Turkey (Rhoades and Block, 2000).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GAexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MAexotic, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic
Canada BCexotic, NBexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: The species is widely distributed in the United States except in the Rocky Mountain region and has become invasive in open meadow and grassland areas with a few occurrences in older growth woodland stands but decreasing with forest succession. The plant disperses easily and reproduces readily but control is not very difficult or impactful. More research is needed on impacts at the ecosystem level and on native species/communities of concern.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low
I-Rank Review Date: 27Jun2006
Evaluator: J. Cordeiro, rev. K. Gravuer
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Ornithogalum umbellatum is native to North Africa as well as Europe. In Europe, it is found from Portugal and Spain in the west, south to Italy, north to parts of France and east to Turkey (Rhoades and Block, 2000).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species has been planted as an ornamental in North America, Europe, and Australia, where it has become naturalized and invasive (DeMars, 1994).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Throughout the United States, it has escaped from gardens and become established in a variety of habitats including reoadsides, fields, and woodlands with naturalized populations in most states (DeMars, 1994).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No reports of impacts on ecosystem processes or system-wide parameters were found. Therefore, assume impacts are relatively insignificant.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Effect on community structure has not been studied. Anecdotally, it has the ability to form locally dense stands along the edges of the rivers and streams, allowing it to crowd out native riparian plants (Rhoades and Block, 2000). DeMars (1994) found this species to be an actively invading species in older growth woodland stands near Wright State University in Ohio, but is lowered as forest succession occurs.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Medium/Low significance
Comments: It has the ability to form locally dense stands along the edges of the rivers and streams, allowing it to crowd out native riparian plants (Rhoades and Block, 2000). DeMars (1994) found this species to be an actively invading species in older growth woodland stands near Wright State University in Ohio, but is lowered as forest succession occurs.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No mention of disproportionate impacts on particular native species found in the literature. However, it has the ability to form locally dense stands along the edges of the rivers and streams, allowing it to crowd out native riparian plants (Rhoades and Block, 2000). Deam (1940, in DeMars, 1994) reported patches of an acre or more in Indiana forests and noted a tendency for the plant to grow in high densities and displace native plant species. DeMars (1994) found this species to be an actively invading species in older growth woodland stands near Wright State University in Ohio, but is lowered as forest succession occurs.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Invades along the banks of rivers and streams and into wetland habitats including floodplain forests and wet meadows (USDA, 1999).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: USDA (2006) cites the U.S. distribution as occurring in all the continental United States except the eastern Rocky Mountain states, Nevada, and Arizona (see also Main et al., 2004).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Low significance
Comments: This species is often grown as an ornamental plant but can become invasive in open niche situations, such as dormant turfgrass areas (Uva et al., 1997; Main et al., 2004). Although it is not very prevalent, it is a significant management problem in fields, turfgrass, landscapes, and roadsides that are infested. It seems in the United States, Star-of-Bethlehem is an emerging weed problem that will likely continue to spread into agricultural sites and turfgrass areas where spring control prior to bulb formation is not practiced, but introductions into natural areas has not been demonstrated to be a serious problem yet (Southern Illinois University Weed Research, 2005).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: It is conservatively estimated that well over half of the 81 ecoregions have been invaded by Ornithogalum umbellatum as it occurs in nearly every state (Cordeiro, pers. obs. March 2006 based on TNC, 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: This plant prefers moist to wet habitats and can be found along the banks of rivers and streams, in disturbed situations, in early succession forest, forest edge, floodplain forest, wet meadows, yards and gardens (USDA, 1999). It can grow in light, medium, and heavy soils both acid and basic but requires moist soil.

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: It seems in the United States, Star-of-Bethlehem is an emerging weed problem that will likely continue to spread into agricultural sites and turfgrass areas where spring control prior to bulb formation is not practiced, but introductions into natural areas has not been demonstrated to be a serious problem yet (Southern Illinois University Weed Research, 2005).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Because USDA (2006) cites the U.S. distribution as occurring in all the continental United States except the eastern Rocky Mountain states, Nevada, and Arizona (see also Main et al., 2004), potential total range is nearly full at the state level but at the population level, there is certainly a great deal of room within states for expansion.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: It can be dispersed via additional plantings as well as the bulbs being washed downstream (Rhoades and Block, 2000). Beam et al. (2004) found this species strongly resists mowing as cultivation breaks up the bulblets and further spreads the plant. Ornithogalum umbellatum disperses itself by means of its bulbs, which can be dispersed by water. It is likely also dispersed via additional plantings, as this plant continues to be used regularly as a spring flowering ornamental (Uva et al., 1997).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High/Moderate significance
Comments: This plant is used quite widely as an ornamental, despite it being poisonous if swallowed, thus recent expansion rate has been high. DeMars (1994) found this species to be an actively invading species in older growth woodland stands near Wright State University in Ohio, but is lowered as forest succession occurs. Beam et al. (2004) found this species strongly resists mowing as cultivation breaks up the bulblets and further spreads the plant.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Moderate significance
Comments: Star-of-Bethlehem has escaped cultivation and is a weed of turfgrass and landscapes, often found in and around flower gardens; less common in meadows, along roads, and in waste areas (Uva et al., 1997). Although invasions usually follow paths of disturbance, DeMars (1994) found this species to be an actively invading species in older growth woodland stands near Wright State University in Ohio, but is lowered as forest succession occurs.

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Wallwork and others (in Beam et al., 2004) reported star-of-Bethlehem was proving difficult to control in South Australia and that it was responsible for outbreaks of barley leaf rust in the region, since star-of-Bethlehem looked to be an alternate host of this disease.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High/Moderate significance
Comments: This perennial plant has early season maturation, flowering from April to May and seeds rip from June to July (Southern Illinois University Fact Sheet, 2005). Flowering seedlings rarely occur as most plants develop from bulbs (DeMars, 1994; Uva et al., 1997). Flowers are hermaphroditic (and self-fertile) and are pollinated by insects (Huxley et al., 1999). Ornithogalum umbellatum disperses itself by means of its bulbs, which can be dispersed by water. The extent to which it is able to reproduce by seed in the New England region is unclear (Rhoades and Block, 2000). In Ohio, this species initiates growth in late February to early March with bulbs produced during the previous year sprouting roots, which grow quickly pushing the bulb upward and outward through the soil surface (DeMars, 1994). Beam et al. (2004) found this species strongly resists mowing as cultivation breaks up the bulblets and further spreads the plant.

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Little information exists on management of this species. Research on ornamental plantings for preemergence weed control found commonly used herbicides did not adversely affect flowering date, weight, and number of bulbs produced (Skroch et al., 1994) as this species is fairly non-responsive to several herbicides (USDA, 1999). Post-emergence herbicides faired better (particularly bromoxynil, less so for halosulfuron, imazaquin, and metsulfuron especially when in combination with bromoxynil) (Main et al., 2004). Beam et al. (2004) found this species strongly resists mowing as cultivation breaks up the bulblets and further spreads the plant; but found paraquat controlled star-of-Bethlehem greater than 95% two years after initial treatment. Dicamba at 2.2 and 4.4 kg ai/ha controlled star-of-Bethlehem between 80 and 90% two years after initial treatment (but was expensive- $250/ha). Investigation of herbicides by Southern Illinois University (2005) showed control was less than 25% after one year for all herbicides except Gramoxone Max, which was 90-95%.

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance
Comments: Successful application of bromoxynil only required two applications each 1 year apart (Main et al., 2004).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Successful application of the herbicide bromoxynil has little effect on other turfgrass, does not persist in soil, or volatilize and harm nontarget species (Main et al., 2004).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: It appears most to all areas are easily accessible. Access to private lands may be an issue where this species is deliberately planted.
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 07Apr2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2006); Morse, Larry E. (1994)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Beam, J.B., W.L. Barker, S.D. Askew, and K.W. Bradley. 2004. Controlling star-of-bethlehem. Abstract of the Northeast Weed Science Society Conference, Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 7, 2004.

  • DeMars, B.G. 1994. Star-of-Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum L. (Liliaceae): an invasive, naturalized plant in woodlands of Ohio. Natural Areas Journal, 14(4): 306-307.

  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Division of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1236 pp.

  • Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, and J. Pojar, eds. 2001. Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Vol. 6, Monocotyledons (Acoraceae through Najadaceae). B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, and B.C. Minist. For., Victoria, BC. 361pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Huxley, A. M. Griffiths, and M. Levy (eds.). 1999. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Nature Publishing Group, United Kingdom. 3336 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Main, C.L., D.K. Robinson, T.C. Teuton, and T.C. Mueller. 2004. Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) control with post-emergence herbicides in dormant bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) turf. Weed Technology, 18: 1117-1119.

  • Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block. 2000. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1061 pp.

  • Skroch, W.A., C.J. Catanzaro, A.A. DeHertogh, and L.B. Gallitano. 1994. Preemergence herbicide evaluations on selected spring and summer flowering bulbs and perennials. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 12: 80-82.

  • Southern Illinois University. 2005. Fact Sheet- Star-of-Bethlehem. Southern Illinois University Weed Research Annual Report, Available online at: http://www.siu-weeds.com. Accessed March 2006.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA, NRCS). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70874-4490 USA. Available online: http://plants.usda.gov. Accessed: March 2006.

  • Uva, R.H., J.C. Neal, and J.M. DiTomaso. 1997. Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, New York. 397 pp.

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