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. Ornithogallum arabicum is cultivated in gardens and included in the key below, but is not known to be naturalized in NSW.
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)
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Tepals white with a green stripe on outer surface; ovary yellow-green to brown||2|
|Tepals white without a green stripe on outer surface; ovary black to violet||4|
|2||Leaves to 15 mm wide; fewer than 70 flowers per inflorescence||3|
|Leaves 20–50 mm wide; up to 300 flowers per inflorescence|
Back to 1
|3||Pedicels 7–10 cm long; tepals 15–20 mm long; ovary ovoid to obovoid||Ornithogalum umbellatum|
|Pedicels to 3 cm long; tepals 11–15 mm long; ovary subglobose to ellipsoid|
Back to 2
|4||Pedicels to 4 cm long; all stamen filaments linear to lanceolate, without appendages||Ornithogalum arabicum|
|Pedicels 6–8 cm long; stamen filaments opposite perianth segments broadened, with appendage|
Back to 1