Last updated on May 22nd, 2023 at 10:33 am

A winter bulbous perennial plant native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia and Africa, the Star of Bethlehem is similar to wild garlic. It belongs to the genus Ornithogalum of the Asparagaceae or lily family. Its scientific name is Ornithogalum umbellatum. The star of Bethlehem was first described in 1573 as a creamy white star-shaped flower.

The genus Ornithogalum comes from the Greek words ‘ornis,’ meaning bird, and ‘gala,’ meaning milk. The name translates to “Bird’s Milk Flower,” referring to the pristine white flowers of this plant. It comes from the name “Dove’s Dung,” ascribed by the Greeks to the bulbs of this plant.

Interestingly, the star of Bethlehem flower is a hermaphrodite! It contains male and female parts and bears fruits resembling a capsule with many small black seeds. While bees and other insects can pollinate it, the hermaphrodite flower can also self-fertilize and bear fruit! 

The flowers bloom for several weeks in late spring and early summer. It is considered invasive in some areas as it spreads rapidly, posing a threat to other native flora.

What Does The Star Of Bethlehem Flower Symbolize?

The star of Bethlehem derives its name from the five pure white star-shaped petals of the flower. This flower symbolizes Christian values and is closely tied to the birth of Jesus Christ. Legend has it that God created the star of Bethlehem to guide the three wise men to the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

As the star fulfilled its purpose, God thought it was too stunning and beautiful to do away with. According to biblical legend, God crushed the star into millions of tiny pieces and scattered them across the earth. This gave birth to the star of Bethlehem flower, widely known and cherished today. Biblically, the star of Bethlehem flower symbolizes hope, purity, happiness, honesty, and innocence.

The white flowers of the star of Bethlehem represent purity. The color symbolizes purity of intent and relationships, especially those of love. It is ideal for wedding ceremonies, baptisms, and other Christian ceremonies.

The star of Bethlehem flowers is also the floral symbol of the Epiphany, right after Christmas. They herald the birth of Jesus Christ and are used as decorations over the holidays.

This beautiful flower is a perfect symbol of hope for a better future. It is a sign of good things to come and better times. 

This flower is also representative of forgiveness and acceptance. It is given to some to indicate that you are offering the person a second chance and that you are ready to forgive them.

The star of Bethlehem is a sign of truth and honesty. It also represents innocence. It symbolizes the desire for forgiveness and speaks the language of repentance. It is ideal for extending a peace offering to someone you may have hurt or seeking forgiveness.

Interestingly, the star of Bethlehem is also known as the 11 o’clock lady! This is a reference to the time that the flowers bloom. These flowers are believed to bloom not earlier or later than 11:00 A.M. in the day during the late spring and summer months. The buds blossom simultaneously, creating a wondrous carpet of stars!

All in all, the star of Bethlehem flower symbolic meanings are:

  • purity
  • hope
  • forgiveness
  • honesty
  • innocence

Meaning Of The Star Of Bethlehem Flower Colors

White color

Star Of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum Umbellatum

The white star of Bethlehem flower is linked to purity and innocence. It is symbolic of people who are pure at heart and of love that is pure and true. These white flowers also symbolize innocence and convey apologies, especially when harm or wrong is done. They are the perfect flowers to present to someone when you choose to forgive them.

White stars of Bethlehem flowers’ meanings of spirituality, hope, and purity draw closely from Christian traditions and values. These flowers are ideal for celebrating marriages, baptisms, and holy communions.

Orange color

Star of Bethlehem

Orange is the color of joy, happiness, and optimism. The orange star of Bethlehem flower is associated with a sense of joy, happiness, and celebration. They are not as common as white flowers but are excellent floral gifts to make people happy and optimistic.

Yellow color

Gagea Lutea, Yellow Star Of Bethlehem, Flower, Spring

The yellow star of Bethlehem flowers also represents joy, happiness, and positive energy. These bright yellow flowers will surely bring people joy and brighten their lives. These flowers are also symbolic of hope and better times and can be presented to signal hope for a better tomorrow.

Red color

A rare color, the red star of Bethlehem is a bright, striking, and passionate flower. It represents the struggle for freedom and liberty. It is symbolic of people’s passion, strength, and determination.

Blue color

Blue star flowers.

The blue star of Bethlehem flower is associated with trust and respect for another. It represents faith and honesty and is symbolic of relationships based on mutual trust and respect for each other.

Purple color

Purple is the color of royalty. The purple star of Bethlehem flowers symbolizes royalty, exquisite beauty, and uniqueness. These flowers are stunning to behold and reserved for those with a special place in your heart.

Interesting Facts About The Star Of Bethlehem Flowers

  • The star of Bethlehem flower is a close relative of the wild garlic! It is said to have stronger healing effects than those of the garlic plant. According to nutritionists, the star of Bethlehem can cure many diseases and is of value in treating lichens, rheumatism, and gout. Valued as dry gold, the plant must be used fresh for medicinal purposes. It is also believed to clear the blood of toxins accumulated over the winter months.
  • The medicinal properties of the star of Bethlehem are also used to treat cough and cold symptoms, strengthen heart muscles, and protect individuals from cardiac infarctions. It also improves memory and treats high blood pressure, chronic diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and dizziness. It can improve appetite, relieve and calm gastrointestinal inflammation, relieve gas, and eliminate bile. It is beneficial for the liver, kidneys, bladder, and bones. It can alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis, arthritis, and rheumatism.
  • The medicinal value of this plant is truly endless. Apart from its benefits for our internal organs, it is also great for our skin. The star of Bethlehem can treat eczema, dermatitis, open wounds, hematoma, and bruises. The juice of the leaves and bulbs can treat the skin and is especially beneficial during the spring and summer.

How To Grow Star Of Bethlehem Flowers

Star of Bethlehem is an easy-to-care bulb growing well in pots and the garden. It can be utilized in rockeries, borders, woodland settings, or around deciduous trees. These are excellent bulbs for naturalizing because they form a dense clump over time.

  1. Plant the star of Bethlehem in well-drained, moist soil.
  2. Choose a spot with at least six hours of direct sunlight to place the plant on most days.
  3. Water the young plants regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
  4. Apply a slow-release fertilizer.

How To Care For Star Of Bethlehem Flowers

  1. Once established and matured, water when the soil feels dry a couple of inches down.
  2. Mix some compost into the soil each spring to promote healthy growth.
  3. Stop watering when the foliage turns yellow after the flowers are spent.
  4. Deadhead to prevent the seeds from spreading. 
  5. Remove the dead foliage as the plant goes into dormancy.

Best Time To Gift Star Of Bethlehem Flowers

The star of Bethlehem flowers can be gifted to people to celebrate life’s milestones, seek forgiveness, build trust, or convey feelings of love and hope. These flowers are best gifted to people to convey messages from the heart. This flower tells the receiver they are loved, adored, and cherished. 

The plant is also extremely resilient and hardy. The flowers make for excellent cut flowers in floral arrangements and can thrive for as many as two to four weeks.

The star of Bethlehem is an excellent addition to bouquets and decorations for celebrating weddings, baptisms, and holy communions. They are also used during funerals to symbolize and celebrate a well-lived life.

Apart from its close association with Christianity, this flower is also used in secular ceremonies. It can also be presented to people to convey forgiveness, happiness, and optimism. The next time you think of celebrating someone on a special occasion, reach out for a bouquet of the star of Bethlehem flowers and let them speak your language of love and hope.


The star of Bethlehem’s exquisite star-shaped blossoms is worth appreciating at any time of year. While many people identify them with winter and Christmas, when planted in the landscape, they bloom in the spring. Let them bring the meaning of purity and innocence to your garden or flower arrangement.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!