Ornithogalum umbellatum L. - Liliaceae - Star of Betlehem, nap-at-noon, Doldiger Milchstern, Stern von Bethlehem
Perennial herb, native to southern and central Europe, cultivated as ornamental, naturalized in North America; bulbs renewed each year, bulblets numerous; leaves linear-lanceolate with white adaxial stripe; flowers white with green abaxial stripe, opening in sun and closing at night.
„Flowering spring… Planted as a garden ornamental, Ornithogalum umbellatum produces many offsetting bulblets that are transported in soil and can become rampant weeds… Two digitalis-like glycosides, convallatoxin and convalloside, poisonous to humans and livestock, are found throughout the plant, but are concentrated in the bulbs and the flowers (W. H. Blackwell 1990; K. F. Lampe and M. A. McCann 1985; D. G. Spoerke Jr. and S. C. Smolinske 1990).“ http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242101813
„It has been shown that Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem), a bulbous plant belonging to the lily family, contains a substance having an action very similar, if not identical with, that of the glycosides of digitalis. Active extracts were prepared with alcohol, acetone and with water and standardized on frogs and cats. The most active bulbs, when assayed by the cat method, showed a potency 1.84 times that of digitalis leaves.“
[The Action of Ornithogalum umbellatum on the Heart., Waud, R.A., Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Vol.111(2), 1954, 147-151]
„Two Kedde-positive compounds, isolated in crystalline form from bulbs of Ornithogalum umbellatum, were shown by their infrared and ultraviolet spectra to be cardenolides. Paper chromatographic analyses of the hydrolysates of these compounds indicated that both compounds contain sarmentogenin as the aglycone moiety, and that one is a rhamnoside while the other is the corresponding rhamnoside-glucoside. The identification of the monoglycoside as rhodexin A, i.e. sarmentogenin-α-L-rhamnoside, a glycoside previously isolated from Rhodea (Rohdea) japonica, was confirmed by comparison with an authentic sample. The diglycoside, an apparently new compound of composition sarmentogenin-rhamnose-glucose is designated rhodexoside.“
[Rhodexin A and rhodexoside in Ornithogalum umbellatum., Smith, J.A., Paterson, G.R., Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Vol.19(4), 1967, 221-225]
Several cardenolids could be identified in O.umbellatum (and related species) by SC/HPLC, including convallatoxin, convalloside, strophalloside, rhodexin A, rhodexoside, peripallosid, and lokudiosid.
[Beitrag der Cardenolide zur Taxonomie der Ornithogalum umbellatum-Verwandtschaft (Hyacinthaceae)., Ferth, R., Speta, F., Kopp, B., (No. 164, p. 121), 2001, Land Oberösterreich, OÖ. Landesmuseum]
Dietrich, A.G., Flora regni borussici, vol. 1: t. 56 (1832-1833) [A.G. Dietrich]