Drooping Star-Of-Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem
Drooping Star-Of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum nutans   Photo: Jo Parmenter

Drooping Star-Of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum nutans naturalised along the river Wensum in Norwich.

Nodding (also known as drooping) star-of-Bethlehem or Bath asparagus (the young, unexpanded flowering shoots are cooked and served like asparagus, although personally I think you’d be best growing the real thing) is a species of flowering plant in the same family as Asparagus, and native to Europe and South West Asia. It is a bulbous perennial growing to 20–60 cm, with strap-shaped leaves and bears fragrant grey-green striped, white flowers, which give it an overall silvery-grey colour, in spring.

It is a garden escape and found close to civilisation on woodland edges or along shady roadside hedge banks, and in churchyards. It was first cultivated in Britain by 1648 and recorded from the wild by 1821. Populations are usually small and short-lived though some are persistent, such as at Bodney churchyard (West Norfolk) where it has been known since 1917.

Jo Parmenter