What a great feeling it is to finally find and ID the plant that’s been stumping you. The pretty little white flower pictured in this post has been sitting in a vase for several days while I tried to identify it for Lisa. Today I was successful: it’s Star of Bethlehem, which is not a plant that I knew.
However it’s been around for a while, starting in Europe. According to the sources I’ve been able to access, Star of Bethlehem’s name dates from the middle ages and the crusades.
Some other things to know about this pretty little flowering plant:
It’s a member of the lily family.
It’s a heart stimulant and needs to be treated with caution because some sources say that all parts of the plant are toxic..
Gardeners are divided on whether it’s a weed or a flower. However it’s highly invasive, hard to dig up and hard to kill. So if you choose to let it live, expect it to spread.
Identifying invasive species has become a passion of mine over the past decade. I’m amazed at the plants that I grew up thinking were wildflowers and native to our area were actually brought by European settlers. That’s why I turn to books like Lynn Steiner’s Landscaping with Native Plants of Michigan.
Steiner is a well known garden writer who specializes in the Midwest. She’s a graduate of the University of Wisconsin where she earned a degree in Natural resources. She earned her master’s in horticulture with a minor in agricultural journalism at the University of Minnesota. While Steiner talks mainly about the benefits of native plants and how we can learn from the natural world, she includes sections on “The Bad Guys” as she dubs invasive and weedy introduced plants.
While I didn’t use Steiner’s book to identify Star of Bethlehem, I have used it many times to avoid significant gardening mistakes like the advice from a landscape designer to use Buckthorn trees because he “really liked the way they look.” I looked up the Buckthorn, was appalled that he was recommending it and gave him a copy of Steiner’s book. It was rewarding to see him delve into it immediately and I’m sure he’s never looked at plants for his landscaping plans with the same eye.
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