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Ornithogalum L.

Sp.Pl. 2:306 (1753)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Stars of Bethlehem. Family Hyacinthaceae.

Sometimes included in Liliaceae-Scilloideae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Perennial (leaves annual). Leaves basal. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves; bulbaceous (tunicated). Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves simple. Leaf blades entire; concave above; linear, or lanceolate, or ovate, or orbicular; oblong (to linear), or linear (usually); parallel-veined; without cross-venules. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent. Extra-floral nectaries absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes (elongated), or in corymbs. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; inflorescence scape bractless, leafless; inflorescence erect and well exserted from the leaves, bracteate. Flowers pedicellate (long or short); bracteate (each subtends 1 flower, often inconspicuous); ebracteolate; small, or medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube present, or absent. Free hypanthium very short. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled; isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; white (sometimes with a green stripe, or various colours). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the tube); all equal; free of one another; 2 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6 (in 2 whorls); all more or less similar in shape; diplostemonous; opposite the inner perianth segments; alterniperianthial, or oppositiperianthial; filantherous (the filaments often broad and flat). Filaments appendiculate (basal), or not appendiculate. Anthers dorsifixed; versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular; sessile. Gynoecium non-stylate, or stylate. Styles 1 (or 0); attenuate from the ovary, or from a depression at the top of the ovary; apical. Stigmas 1; 3 - lobed; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules 2–50 per locule (2 to many); arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 20–100 seeded (many). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight, or curved. Testa encrusted with phytomelan, or without phytomelan.

Etymology. From the Greek for "bird" and "milk".

J. Gathe and Leslie Watson, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine 2002. Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 1, introduction, keys, ferns to monocotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study.. Canberra..