Star-of-Bethlehem Discovered in Woodland Follies

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- On a quiet afternoon, Ms. Carol M. Indygardener was tending to her garden, mostly marking out new beds in the vegetable garden, when she noticed  a pretty, white, almost shiny flower amidst a group of other spring blooms in the garden she likes to call Woodland Follies.

In a bit of a rush, Ms. Indygardener did not at first recognize the bloom but later confirmed its identity after consulting with several gardeners online.  Ms. M. A., author of the popular blog Gardens of the Wild, Wild West, was the first to correctly identify it as Star-of-Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum.

She also told Ms. Indygardener, "I hope you like it cuz you are never ever gonna see the end of it."

Ms. Indygardener was horrified when she found out the identity of the bloom. She recalled immediately the blog for the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historical Site and their yearly battle to remove this plant which has spread throughout the gardens for over 80 years.

She told reporters, "I don't know where this flower came from.  I've searched all the receipts for my bulb orders from last fall and don't see it listed. Really, I would never order it because even though I didn't recognize it at first, I knew when I found out what it was that it was an invasive plant."

Ms. Indygardener later shared information about how the Purdue University Extension Service describes Star-of-Bethlehem as an invasive weed, now growing in 91 of Indiana's 92 counties.  In fact, it is listed on their "Most Wanted" Invasive Plant Pest List.

Following a sleepness night in which she said she had nightmares about seductive, invasive plants, Ms. Indygardener went out at first light and dug up the one Star-of-Bethlehem plant. She noted that it was at first difficult to see, hiding amongst the other bulbs with its blooms all closed up.

But she found it and dug it up on the spot without hesitation.

"No invasive flower like Star-of-Bethlehem is taking over my newly designed gardens", she told reporters. As evidence of a hopefully successful removal, she took pictures of the plant shortly after she dug it up and right before she unceremoniously threw it in the trash.

There was some speculation amongst various authorities as to where the bulb for the Star-of-Bethlehem might have come from and how it ended up in Ms. Indygardener's Woodland Follies garden. The current theory is that one bulb of the Star-of-Bethlehem may have ended up in a package of other bulbs purchased last fall, and blended in enough that Ms. Indygardener did not notice it when she hurriedly planted bulbs before the ground froze.

Asked if she had any words of wisdom for other gardeners after her ordeal, Ms. Indygardener responded, "We must always remain vigilant in our gardens. If we see a plant that we don't recognize and don't remember planting, we should find out what it is, because it might be bad."

(Reprinted from The May Dreams Gardens Gazette, circulation unknown, mostly read by the garden fairies while sitting on their porches after a big dinner. One fairy usually reads the stories aloud to all the others.)


Bad indeed. With it being in so many counties, it could have even come in with the soil. I've never seen it in my fair state, but that doesn't mean it's not here.

You were smart to look it up on the invasives list and then to promptly shovel prune it.~~Dee
Earth Girl said…
Good catch, Ms. Indygardener! And good luck.
cynthia said…
Carol, i have so much of that stuff that i inhereted from the prev. owner that i can not possible dig it all up. i am trying and most of my flower beds are now clear. i found out that there is a chemical that will kill this stuff, as round up will not. as soon as i have given a fair trial i will let you know the success rate. you must get out what ever you see. this stuff multiplies from offset and seed.

Cinj said…
Good catch. Too bad it's so invasive, because it is pretty. It's been a while since I last visited, I like the last line of your leave you comment thingy, very cute!
karen kennedy said…
Oh dear I wonder it that is what I have that grows in great giant clumps on one side of my house. Need to snap a pix and confirm. It is a pretty flower.
greggo said…
Reminds me of Cooperia, Rain Lilly. Comes up here in Southern Kansas in everyone's dormant turfgrass in late winter. Looks like wild onion or garlic foliage and actually does bloom after a rain. Speaking of invasive, I just pulled on a emerging day-flower plant.
Ida Mae said…
Miz M IndyGardener: If I were you I'd go back and sift that soil looking for any little tiny bulbils. Some can be the size of raindrop.
Good to know. Thanks for the wake call,a gardener can neve be to cautios.
Nicely done (even though that thing is kinda pretty). I have the opposite story to tell -- been trying to kill a "weed" that has persistently come up in the same place no matter how many times I chop it down. Right around the time I start wanted an elderberry and hear they are delightful, I realize it is a volunteer elderberry. Woops. Thank goodness it was so hard to kill!
You really never can be too careful. Bulbs are tricky things, making it difficult to determine whether you're planting the right thing. I hope that your prompt action is enough to completely get rid of it. (BTW, I love the name of your new garden!)
I recently discovered I've got a decent patch of lily of the valley, that is being nearly choked out by periwinkle. You never know what you're going to find!
I am reading your post and am a little in shock. I actually planted Star of Bethlehem bulbs in my garden a few years ago. I bought them from a reputable (?) nursery in South Carolina. They have not spread at all but I am wondering now if I should pull them out? They are pretty.
This naughty uninvited plant also snuck into my garden this year. Maybe it just liked all the cold and rain and it floated in. Too bad because they are cute. I saw a lot of this in the fields around here.
Anonymous said…
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Cherry Lane said…
Ugh. I inherited an entire garden bed full of them. I didn't know what they were the first year, so I actually transplanted them to another area of the yard. Went back to dig all those up (with 99% success) the following year. But that first patch is still going strong, despite my efforts at sifting the soil. And this year I found S-O-B (what an appropriate moniker!) in four new gardens!

I do hope you were able to remove it all.
Jess said…
ut oh... I inherited this, and it will be with me forever looking godawful.
Chigiy Binell said…
Too bad it was such a pretty crisp looking flower. I am glad you figured it out and gave it the deep six. Good luck.
I've been fighting it for 40 years in my garden. It's a lot like kudzu, just keeps popping up. I thought that I'd heard the last of kudzu but someone reported seeing it in the Chicago suburbs.
Ivynettle said…
We had a lot of it in our garden, back at my parents' house - but it's native here, so that was OK. It was a bit annoying, but I'm still fond of it - it's pretty, and it reminds me of my wonderful grammar school Biology teacher, since the first question I asked her after class was whether she knew what this flower was called... one of my saner questions (the most memorable one of the more insane ones was, 'If you chop off a head - do you think the head would stay alive long enough to realize it's been chopped off?')