Star-of-Bethlehem – Ornithogalum umbellatum

Star of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem

The name Star of Bethlehem is mainly in allusion to the six-pointed blooms, but may also have come about because it was used as a famine food by medieval pilgrims to the Holy Land & was to be found growing all around Bethlehem, perhaps planted there by the Christian pilgrims

This plant is said to treat congestive heart failure, but no reference to how it was utilized. The bulbs can be poisonous, but if dried first, or boiled repeatedly in changes of water they are thought to be okay. According to Stephen Facciola’s Cornucopia: A Source Book of Edible Plants the blossoms have been used as an ingredient in baked bread & pastries.

Due to the presence of two cardiac glycosides in all parts (although concentrated in the bulbs) it is toxic! Ingesting two bulbs can cause shortness of breath in adults. Symptoms of toxicosis include nausea, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath, pain, burning, and swelling of lips, tongue, and throat, skin irritation following prolonged contact.

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