Extraordinarily long vase life makes these distinctive flowers customer
product FRESH FLOWER
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,”
Four species of Ornithogalum are regularly grown as
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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