In hyacinth: bean, bloom, britcom I described our front-yard sequence of naturalized spring bulbs, from freesia through hyacinth to Star of Bethlehem. That description was incomplete. as I neglected to mention the paper-white narcissi that start around Christmas and the elephant garlic whose flowers are just now opening on stems of up to six feet.
Next year I hope to see more narcissi and less garlic, but it's the Star of Bethlehem (SB) I really want to talk about today. When I removed the dense mat of ivy that used to cover our front yard and parking strip, SB was one of the few plants that had survived being immured for years underneath. I was delighted when it bloomed -- even more so because it was a flower I'd never seen before. My neighbor's grandmother identified SB for me, and warned that it could become invasive. Nevertheless I've encouraged SB over the years and enjoyed its mildly licorice-like fragrance. What could be more invasive than ivy, after all?
This spring I think we had about 25-30 SBs blooming on long stems, along with innumerable clumps of floppy leaves bearing no blossoms. I attributed the barren clumps to lack of sufficient sun, a phenomenon which could also cause the stems to be as tall as 30".
Some of this year's SBs grew in places where I don't really want them to appear next year. So now I'm digging them out and learning more about the meaning of invasive species. Each blooming SB rises over a clump of up to ten bulbs and bulblets. As with garlic, the bulblets form at the base of the main bulb. They start off with a concave side from being pressed up against the main bulb, but become round when they drop off and mature.
Maybe I'll advertise the SB bulbs on Craig's List and give them away to good homes. Others may enjoy them too, and 15-20 pounds seems like a lot to throw away. Fortunately, California is not one of the states where SB presents a serious threat.
BTW, the first SB I ever saw outside my own yard was a florist-grown plant that looked so different from my 'garden variety' ones that I had to look twice to recognize it.