Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Search in the Encyclopedia

Dieren en planten

Lily family   Bluebell   Snowdrop   Star-of-Bethlehem   Drooping star-of-Bethlehem   Angular Solomon's seal   White flowers   

Water en land

Mens en Milieu

Drooping star-of-Bethlehem


20 to 50 centimeters


flowers: white-rimmed light green


April and May


secondary bulbs and seeds spread by ants

life span:


  • Dut: Knikkende vogelmelk
  • Lat: Ornithogalum nutans
  • Eng: Drooping star-of-Bethlehem
  • Ger: Nickender Milchstern
Drooping star-of-Bethlehem, Foto Fitis,

Drooping star-of-Bethlehem

Drooping star-of-Bethlehem is an exotic plant. Its origin lies in western Turkey, Bulgara and eastern Greece. It is a typical stinsen plant and arrived on Texel when snowdrops were imported from France. Stinzen plants are (often wild) bulbous plants which were first planted long ago by Frisian (stinzen) and Groningen (borgen) estates, country houses and castles. Contrary to the indigenous Star-of-Bethlehem, the drooping star-of-Bethlehem can reproduce via seed as well as bulbs.

  • Ants and seeds

    The seeds of drooping-star-of-Bethlehem are covered in an oily substance. There are many species of ants attracted to this and they will dragged the seeds to their nest. The oily substance is called elaiosome, however the Dutch name is much more descriptive: ant bread. The ants feed the elaiosome to their larvae. This is one way to distribute seeds. Thousands of plant species have this same feature. A few other examples are snowdrops and pansies.

  • Distribution and habitat

    Drooping star-of-Bethlehem grows on calcium-rich grounds in the inner dune ridges of the Holland coastal provinces and on Texel. Being a stinsen plant, it is also found by estates in parts of Friesland, Groningen, Zeeland and dispersed along the river regions. Otherwise, it is a rare plant. It grows well in lightly shaded areas, often among grass, as long as no sheep graze.