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Star of Bethlehem is a weed

Q: Please tell me how to rid my lawn of star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). It’s the worst garden pest I’ve ever encountered.

Marilynne VenJohn, Dodge City, KS

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Blume

A: Doris Taylor, plant information specialist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, replies: Star of Bethlehem is a small bulb in the lily family. Native to the Mediterranean region, it has naturalized in North America because it self-sows freely, often finding its way into lawns. Its star-shaped, white flowers are desired by some, but its large tufts of grasslike leaves are considered a nuisance by others.

The best way to get rid of star of Bethlehem is to dig up the bulbs with a sharp spade or trowel and discard them. In a lawn, you can control its spread by mowing the flowers before seeds mature. If these approaches aren’t feasible, synthetic herbicides, such as products containing glyphosate, will kill the plants. Be sure to apply these products carefully as they may also kill neighboring plants and grass. Remember to read and follow directions carefully. More than one application may be necessary.

From Fine Gardening 66, pp. 84