No other plant shouts ‘spring has sprung’ like South African Ornithogalum thyrsoides.  Common names are chincherinchee, Star of Bethlehem or wonder flower.

Where you can view Chincherinchee

Take a drive along the N1 between Paarl to Cape Town and especially on the R304 from Joostenbergvlakte towards Philadelphia.  The fields, on both sides, are covered in the white shiny flowers from September to December.

chincherinchee

A Bulbous Plant

Ornithogalum thyrsoides is a bulbous plant that is endemic to the Cape Province, growing wild from Caledon to the West Coast. In nature, it prefers sandy plains and lower parts of mountain slopes. Growing in your garden, they prefer a sunny position with healthy soil and they do particularly well in a sloping garden with good drainage. Ideally, plant the bulbs in autumn.

Pretty Flower

chincherinchee

For winter growing, Ornithogalum thyrsoides are a rewarding plant for pots, window boxes and gardens. The leafless flowers stalks rise above the basal foliage of strap-shaped bright green leaves which usually die back when the plant is in flower. The flower heads consist of dense, conical spikes of 20 to 30 cup-shaped white flowers adorned with centres tinged green-brown that fade with age. This pretty flower provides a pretty burst of white among the green leaves in spring of home gardens. The flowers last a long time in a vase, making it a popular plant with florists and flower markets. It is also exported worldwide as a cut flower. Interestingly, if the stems are put into water containing a large portion of food dye, the flowers take on the colour of the dye. Hence the common name wonder flower.

Propagate by dividing the bulbs after blooming is over and all the leaves have died back or are sowing fresh seed. 

The yellow Ornithogalum dubium is a less known variety with smaller and shorter flowers.  

TAKE NOTE: Ornithogalum species are toxic to livestock.

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