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Genus Ornithogalum Family Hyacinthaceae

Description: Bulbous herbs with fibrous roots.

Leaves basal, usually linear, annual.

Inflorescence an elongate raceme; scape hollow. Perianth stellate; tepals 6, free, in 2 unequal whorls, white with an outer green midvein in some species. Upper pedicels shorter in length than lower pedicels. Staminal filaments flat, broader at base, sheathing ovary at base. Ovules 2–many per loculus; stigma capitate or lobed.

Capsule surrounded by persistent perianth; seeds numerous, globose, angled or flattened.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 160 species, Europe, western Asia & Africa. Australia: 3 species (naturalized), N.S.W., Vic., S.A.

Commonly cultivated for their usually large heads of star-like white flowers; occasionally garden escapes or fully naturalized. This genus has recently been revised (Manning et al. 2009) and some species have been moved to Albuca, including A. bracteata.

Text by D. C. Godden (1993); edited KL Wilson (2010; March 2012)
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Ornithogalum orthophyllum

 Key to the species 
1Tepals white with a green stripe on outer surface; ovary yellow-green to brown2
Tepals white without a green stripe on outer surface; ovary black to violet4
2Leaves to 15 mm wide; fewer than 70 flowers per inflorescence3
Leaves 20–50 mm wide; up to 300 flowers per inflorescence
                       Back to 1
Albuca bracteata
3Pedicels 7–10 cm long; tepals 15–20 mm long; ovary ovoid to obovoidOrnithogalum umbellatum
Pedicels to 3 cm long; tepals 11–15 mm long; ovary subglobose to ellipsoid
                       Back to 2
Ornithogalum pyramidale
4Pedicels to 4 cm long; all stamen filaments linear to lanceolate, without appendagesOrnithogalum arabicum
Pedicels 6–8 cm long; stamen filaments opposite perianth segments broadened, with appendage
                       Back to 1
Ornithogalum thyrsoides

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