Ornithogalum umbellatum 


Names and Myths

Ornithogalum Bird milk

umbellatum umbelled

Named by Dioscorides for the flowers "being opened they are like milk. The plant was also known as Doves dung in Hebrew and Arabic.2

Natural history / Folklore

Introduced from Europe. Have been used as a food, and are recorded in the Bible 2 Kings 6:25 "And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver."  (KJV) A flour made from the dried bulbs is still part of the diet for pilgrams going to Mecca.2

Species List Family Group
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April and May. Five to six white flowers on spreading pedicels, resulting in a loose umbel.