I’ll admit when I first saw Triteleia’s blue and white striped bloom, I did not know what it was, but after the whole Star-of-Bethlehem scare earlier this spring, the sight of it sent me straight to the lists of bulbs I ordered last fall to find out what it could be.
Narcissus? Tulipa? Iris? Nope, nope, nope…
Yes, that’s it!
I had never heard of Triteliea before I ordered it and then I forgot I ordered it. I must have been taken in by its picture. And that’s the truth. It has to be the truth because I found out that Triteleia’s common name is Ithuriel’s Spear.
When I looked up Ithuriel’s Spear, it led me to this quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost:
“Him [i.e. Satan], thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness.”
Milton: Paradise Lost, iv 810-813.
I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole of Paradise Lost, but many references point out that “the slightest touch of Ithuriel’s Spear exposes deceit”. In Paradise Lost, Ithuriel is an angel sent by Gabriel to the Garden of Eden to expose Satan. The National Forest Service has a nice write up about Triteleia laxa, if you would like to read more about this native California and Oregon wildflower and the reference to Paradise Lost.
I did, of course, go down the rabbit hole of plant taxonomy to discover that Triteleia is one of those plants that is “problematic” to botanists and could be placed in the Asparagaceae, Liliaceae, or Alliaceae plant families.
I think most botanists place it in Asparagaceae now. But what does it matter, except to botanists? It is not as though you are going to call up your gardening friends to debate this because as soon as you run the debate through to whatever logical or illogical conclusion gives you an answer that everyone may or may not agree with, the botanists will likely change the family again.
(Notice I didn't question that you would want to debate it, but why you would debate it.)
I reached down and touched Ithuriel’s Spear earlier this evening before I knew what it was, which is why I remain convinced that any lie I might even consider telling now would be exposed.
I’ve gone from not knowing what this flower is to feeling like I must be truthful around it.
Ithuriel’s Spear, growing in my garden now, is nature’s own truth serum.