Ornithogalum umbellatum is a spring ephemeral, perennial monocotyledon herb, to 30 cm tall, from a bulb; poisonous (Kingsbury 12964), colonial from bulb offsets.
Leaves basal, linear, 20 cm long or more, 0.5-0.6 cm wide, somewhat fleshy, shiny, green with white central stripe along midrib above, leaves appear March-April, often die back before flowers appear, plant dies back to bulb in summer. Appearing similar to crocus leaves which are not fleshy.
Flowers white, radially symmetrical, star-shaped, sepals and petals alike, 6 total, 1.5-2 cm long, 0.5 cm wide, green stripe below; stamens 6, stalks (filaments) flattened, triangular shaped, base broad; ovary superior, stigma 3-parted; inflorescence on a stem10-30 cm tall, a branched cluster of 3-10 flowers; flowers produce a lot of nectar (Yatskievych 2006); blooms May.
Fruit a dry 3-parted capsule splitting open to release numerous seeds, rarely produces seeds (Uva et al. 1997).
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Occasional.
Habitat: Lawns, flood plain forests or areas where garden waste has been dumped, also in root balls of nursery plants, spreads aggressively, displacing native herbs. Found in soil pH 5.0-7.0.
Notes: All part, but especially the bulbs, contain cardiac glycosides, similar to those in foxglove (Goetz et al. 2007).