star of bethlehem flower meaning

Star of Bethlehem Flower Meaning and Symbolism

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A winter bulb in the lily family, Star of Bethlehem is native to the Mediterranean and is a plant with gorgeous foliage.

Not only does it serve as a wonderful companion plant for many other plants, but it also has some significant symbolism behind its blooms. 

Here’s what you need to know about Star of Bethlehem Flowers.

What is the Etymological Meaning of Star of Bethlehem Flowers?

Star of Bethlehem flowers have a complex etymological meaning with a literal translation that translates to the Greek word “bird’s milk flower.”

Native to the Mediterranean as well as portions of Asia and Africa, the Star of Bethlehem is a flower that is similar in appearance to wild garlic. It is a member of the Hyacinthaceae family.

It has arching leaves yet does not produce a garlic-like aroma when those leaves are crushed. It tends to bloom in the late spring or early summer. 

Star of Bethlehem is a winter bulb by the scientific name of Ornithogalum umbellatum that belongs to the lily family. Its flowers bloom for several weeks yet the plant is challenging to grow in many areas as the plant spreads rapidly and can threaten other native plants.

As mentioned, the scientific name of the white flower, Ornithogalum, has a Greek origin and means “bird’s milk flower” – which is likely a testament to the creamy white color of this flower’s blooms.

Occasionally, you might find Star of Bethlehem flowers with orange flowers. In that case, the flower is more directly tied to symbols of happiness and joy.

star of bethlehem

Growing Star of Bethlehem Flowers

Before we take a deeper dive into what Star of Bethlehem flowers symbolize, let’s take a quick look at how to grow these flowering plants.

This beautiful flower has multiple leaf baring bulbils. A plant native to the Mediterranean region, its star shaped flowers perform best in well drained soil and warm weather.

If you want the grass like foliage to thrive (and not succumb to root rot and other issues), plant your flower bulbs in a spot that does not get water logged. Container gardening is a good choice for your plant!

Another benefit of container gardening is that it will keep these Arabian flowers away from pets and other animals who might want to take a sample bite. Despite its beauty, this plant has toxic alkaloids that can cause health problems for all kinds of critters.

What Does the Star of Bethlehem Flower Symbolize?

The Star of Bethlehem flower is named for its characteristic star shape and pure white petals, so it makes sense that one of the most common meanings associated with this plant is its symbolism that’s tied to the birth of Jesus Christ.

According to the legend, God created the Star of Bethlehem to guide the three wise men, or the three kings, to the baby Jesus.

After the star’s purpose was completed, God thought it to be too beautiful to banish, so he instead crushed it into millions of pieces, after which it descended to the earth and gave birth to the Star of Bethlehem flower we know and love today.

This biblical association means that Star of Bethlehem flowers are also linked to symbols of hope, purity, and happiness.

What Does a White Star of Bethlehem Flower Mean?

It’s unsurprising that the Star of Bethlehem flower is linked to a symbol of purity—after all, that’s the case with most white flowers. If you have someone in your life who is pure at heart and whom you love deeply, this is the perfect flower.

Also known as the wild onion or “dove’s dung,” this plant, with its star like flower bulbs and grass like foliage, can symbolize positive energy and was once known for its ability to treat a variety of health conditions. It was said to improve heart function and “lung congestion,” and even alleviate high blood pressure.

These interesting facts made it a common fixture in backyard flower gardens!

Star of Bethlehem flowers can also be used as a symbol of innocence. You can give this flower to relay a message of innocence, particularly if you have done something wrong and wish to show that you are apologetic moving forward.

white star of bethlehem

What Does an Orange Star of Bethlehem Flower Mean?

You may also find Star of Bethlehem flowers in yellow or orange. When they are found in this shade, they tend to symbolize traditional meanings associated with those colors, like joy and optimism.

What is the Symbolism of a Star of Bethlehem Tattoo?

When borne as a tattoo, the Star of Bethlehem flower is a great choice if you want to convey that you have forgiven someone. Many people choose this tattoo to show that they have forgiven someone or moved on from a challenging time.

Star of Bethlehem flowers are also used as a symbol of hope or honesty. It can show promise for what lies ahead and also be used to express your sincerity.

When Should You Give Someone a Star of Bethlehem?

These star shaped flowers are perfect for a variety of occasions, and are often used as a cut flower for events that call for Christian symbolism, like Christian ceremonies (weddings, baptisms, etc).

Symbolizing innocence, trust, hope, honesty, and many other messages that are unequivocally pure of heart, Star of Bethlehem is a lovely flower that you may want to consider growing in your backyard garden—but only if you don’t mind a bit of sprawl!

This plant will root itself wherever it sees fit, rapidly overtaking the rest of the plants in your garden.

However, if you have the space to dedicate to it—or don’t mind growing it in a container—it’s a plant that’s sure to add beauty and character to your space.

When cut and placed in a bouquet or arrangement, it will continue to thrive for many weeks, making it one of the best blooms for adding depth and allure to any event or gift. 

Star of Bethlehem is consequently used in wedding ceremonies as well as other religious ceremonies, like baptisms. It is often given as a romantic gesture, too.

An interesting note about Star of Bethlehem is that this flower is one of the best if you want to give a cut flower that will take forever to die. It has an outstanding shelf life, lasting for around two to four weeks when placed in a vase.

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