Extraordinarily long vase life makes these distinctive flowers customer favorites..

who, what, where.
     Orni-thogalum (or-ni-THOG-a-lum) is a bulb flower native to Europe, Africa and western Asia. Although star-of-Bethlehem is the common name of this genus, various species have different common names that are specific to them (see “Common Cuts,” below).

common cuts.
    Four species of Ornithogalum are regularly grown as cut flowers.

  • O. thyrsoides (thur-SOY-deez). Common names are chincherinchee, wonder flower and African wonder flower. This species, native to South Africa, has spikes of densely clustered white to ivory flowers on leafless, 12- to 18-inch-tall stems. (Above C.)
  • O. dubium (DOO-bee-um). This hybrid looks similar to O. thyrsoides but has yellow to orange flowers and is commonly known as yellow chincherinchee. The leafless stems generally range from 8 to 12 inches tall. (Above B.)
  • O. arabicum (a-rab-i-kum). Commonly known as star-of-Bethlehem, Arab’s eye, Arabian star flower and lesser cape lily, this species has flattish clusters of scented white flowers with black centers (pistils). The leafless stems frequently reach 18 to 24 inches tall. O. arabicum is native to the Mediterranean region.  (Above A.)
  • O. saundersiae (son-DERS-ee-ay). Commonly called giant chincherinchee, this species looks similar to O. arabicum, but it has creamy white flowers with black or green centers (pistils) and long, leafless stems—up to 3 feet and taller. It is native to South Africa. (Above D.)

relatively speaking.
     Ornithogalum is a member of the Hyacinthaceae (hyacinth) family. Close relatives include hyacinths, grape hyacinths (Muscari), pineapple lily (Eucomis) and squill (Scilla).

know no season.
     O. thyrsoides, O. arabicum and O. saundersiae are available year-round from a combination of domestic and foreign growers, and O. dubium is generally available from November through May.

best buys.
     When purchasing these flowers, look for flower heads with only a few florets open and no dry or crepelike petals. Stems should be strong, turgid and green. Depending on the species, these flowers are sold in either five-stem or 10-stem bunches.

handling help.
     Immediately upon receipt of these flowers in your shop, remove any stem bindings and sleeves. Recut the stems on an angle with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch, and dip or place the stem ends into a hydration solution. Next place the flowers into a clean container(s) partially filled with properly proportioned flower-food solution. Then place the container(s) into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F, and allow the flowers to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or designing with them.

alternative care.
     Some care and handling authorities suggest that flower foods are not beneficial to cut Ornithogalums. They do, however, advocate adding six to eight drops of chlorine bleach per quart of water to control the growth of bacteria.

long-lasting value.
     Although these flowers can last for more than a month, the usual vase life is two to four weeks. To maximize Ornithogalums’ already long vase life, recut the stems, change the flower-food solution (or water) and clean the containers thoroughly every two or three days. Remove florets as they fade.

growth spurts.
     Ornithogalums continue to grow after they’re cut, so leave room in arrangements for continued development. Also, stems tend to weaken as they grow. In addition, Ornithogalums are geotropic (affected by the force of gravity) and phototropic (will bend toward light), so store these flowers vertically in their containers, and shield them from light sources during storage.

be on the safe side.
     Indigestion and symptoms of toxicity may occur if parts of Ornithogalums are ingested, and dermatitis is possible if there is prolonged contact with the skin. Usually the symptoms are minor, but it’s wise to handle these flowers with care and caution customers with pets and children.

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