Turf Tips
04/22/2011

Spring Beauty and Star-of-Bethlehem

Both spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) and star-of-bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) are spring flowering weeds that are similar in appearance and sometimes problematic in lawns. Below is a comparison of the two species including control recommendations for both turf professionals and homeowners.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

Description: Small perennial plant originating from corms. Leaves are oppositely arranged, fleshy with flowers at the tops of erect stems. Flowers are pinkish or whitish or may appear with white, pink stripes. Flowers have five petals and are sweetly scented with a typical bloom time in April and early May in Indiana. Typically occurs in woody, shady locations, although can be found in full-sun.

Description: Small perennial plant originating from bulbs. Leaves are narrow, smooth, and have a noticeable pale green stripe on the underside of the flower. Flowers are white with six petals. Flowers typically bloom time in late April or May in Indiana. Plants (including flowers and bulbs) contain cardiotoxins (poisonous) and should not be eaten by humans or animals. Grows in full sun and shade.  Can be mistaken as wild garlic or wild onion when not flowering.

Control: This weed is seldom severe enough to warrant control. In fact, most homeowners enjoy having this ornamental plant in their landscape. The plants only flower for a few weeks. If you would like to control this species, encourage turf density through proper turf maintenance. Apply broadleaf herbicides, especially ester formulations, such as 2,4-D, mecoprop (MCPP), MCPA, dicamba, or triclopyr (Turfon Ester Ultra, professional; “Poison Ivy & tough Brush Killer”, “Bayer Advanced Brush Killer Plus”, “Ortho Weed B Gone Chickweed, or Clover & Oxalis Killer for Lawns”, homeowner) or combination products containing these ingredients for control if this weed is problematic. Check the herbicide label for specific application rates and turfgrass tolerance before use.

Control: Many homeowners enjoy having this ornamental plant in their landscape although it can become weedy and problematic in landscape beds and lawns. The plants only flower for a few weeks and are not easily visible in cool-season lawns until they flower in the spring. Encourage turf density through proper turf maintenance. Digging bulbs is an effective means of mechanical control. Herbicide control can be obtained with some herbicides. For professionals, products containing sulfentrazone such as Dismiss, Echelon (sulfentrazone + prodiamine), Solitare (sulfentrazone + quinclorac), Q-4 (sulfentrazone, quinclorac, 2,4-D, dicamba) and Surge (sulfentrazone, 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba); and products containing carfentrazone such as Quicksilver, Speedzone (carfentrazone, 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba) will provide good control. For homeowners, products containing sulfentrazone such as “Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns”, “Image Kills Crabgrass” (sulfentrazone + quinclorac), “Spectracide Weed Stop for lawns” (sulfentrazone, 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba); and products containing carfentrazone such as “Fertilome Weed Free Zone” (carfentrazone, 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba) or “Bonide Weed Beater Ultra” (carfentrazone, 2,4-D, MCPA, dicamba) will provide some control. Check the herbicide label for specific application rates and turfgrass tolerance before use.

Distinguishing characteristics: 1) Flowers with five white petals, and 2) corm as overwintering structure.

Distinguishing characteristics: 1) Flowers with six white petals, 2) bulb as overwintering structure, and 3) leaves are narrow, smooth, and have a noticeable pale green stripe on the underside of the flower.


Aaron Patton, Assistant Professor/Turfgrass Extension Specialist


Send corrections, suggestions, and comments to biehlj@purdue.edu