*I just submitted one...can you please delete the "Btw..." part and replace with: I bet you think HIPAA is an animal....

Charming plant does have a rather poisonous side

144 Ornithogalum.JPG

These flowers don’t open until about noon, and then they tend to get "sleepy" at dusk, and will be closed all night long, opening up again the next day.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

"Now 'tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;

Suffer them now, and they'll o'ergrow the garden

And choke the herbs for want of husbandry."

— Shakespeare, Henry VI (part 2)

Watch out for the weeds, both the annuals and the perennials! Even in Shakespeare's time, as now, gardeners had to be vigilant, getting rid of the interlopers as soon as they appeared. Of course, they didn’t have fancy, expensive herbicides to spray all over the place. (Maybe that’s the way it should be now.)

Now here is a spring weed — a perennial — that is popping up, and it's a wonderful little thing. It's an old-timey bulb plant for the garden, but is not often cultivated these days. When they suddenly appear in lawns, most people want to get rid of them.

They do tend to spread themselves around, especially by divisions of their little bulbs. The plants don't get but about a foot tall with a shock of narrow, deep green, odorless leaves. The stem will bear up to a dozen or more milk-white flowers, each one on a long stalk, and very star-like.

These flowers don’t open until about noon, and then they tend to get "sleepy" at dusk, and will be closed all night long, opening up again the next day. There will be three sepals and three petals, each of them with a prominent green stripe on the back. Six stamens are inside, their filaments broad and flattened at the base, and tipped at the end with a yellow anther. The ovary down below is bright green, eventually forming an angled seed pod. The flowers look like they would be fragrant ... but, no.

This plant is distantly related to lilies, and is probably more closely related to what we know as hyacinths. It is native to southern Europe and northern Africa, and has been grown for a long time in Europe and America in gardens. It is commonly naturalized east of the Mississippi River, and scattered elsewhere in North America, often showing up in vacant lots and meadows. As charming as this plant is in the garden, it does have a rather poisonous side. All the parts are a bit toxic, especially the bulbs, and it should never be eaten.

The scientific name alludes to the flowers, and the genus name, taken from Greek, actually translates as "bird's milk"… a name you won't see in the garden centers. This curious name comes from an ancient notion that white doves were able to produce milk, and so feed their young ones. The flowers of our Mystery Plant are as white as doves, so there we are; it's a bit of a stretch. (If you do know this plant, you may have heard it called "Star of Bethlehem," a name that has also been used for a completely different spring-bloomer, Tristagma uniflora, which is also blooming now, but which has bluish-purple flowers, and very oniony-smelling leaves.

(Answer: “Milk-star,” Ornithogalum umbellatum)

John Nelson is the curator of the A. C. Moore Herbarium at the University of South Carolina, in the Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia SC 29208. As a public service, the Herbarium offers free plant identifications. For more information, visit www.herbarium.org or call 803-777-8196, or email nelson@sc.edu .


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


June 16, 2019

Even though I’ve spent a significant portion of my adult life working in TV, I was often too busy to actually watch much of it, or at least to pay much attention to the commercials.

Now that I’m semi-retired and am watching more television, mostly on cable news channels, I’m…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 14, 2019

In many ways, theater is like a spelling bee. Those preparing to take the stage spend weeks practicing and memorizing, hoping they won't get tripped up by a word when they get their moment in the spotlight.

Perhaps nowhere is this parallel more evident than in “The 25th Annual Putnam County…


June 12, 2019

Q My doctor told me to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Can you give me any tips? MM, Winterville

A I hope your doctor gave your more information about your dietary goals since you won’t find that title in the diet manual used by health care professionals.

Most registered dietitian…

Kolasa, Kathy

June 12, 2019

One of my favorite summertime activities is attending cookouts. They have a myriad of tasty food from grilled meats, salads, desserts, and all the other fixings we associate with this event. One of my favorite things to serve at a cookout is seafood in any form from grilled, marinated to fried.


The whiting sandwich from 42 Fry.

June 09, 2019

Having experienced deep depression firsthand, I now feel a sense of kinship with others who have struggled to overcome the same condition and still battle regularly to remain mentally healthy

As someone who’s in the public eye in a very minor way, it encourages me to know about far more…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 09, 2019

On our way to play golf today, Charlie and I couldn't think of the name of the movie star who had come up in our conversation. We could remember all the movies he was in, all his co-stars, all kinds of odd trivia about his life and times — everything but his name. That's all right; sometime…


June 09, 2019

This is the second of two columns on divisions inside United Methodism. Part 1 was published May 29.

The word "conversion" has been at the heart of Christianity for two millennia, with missionaries and evangelists urging sinners to repent and change their wicked ways.

Jesus also needed to be…

Terry Mattingly

June 07, 2019

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the co-creators of an X-Men character named Jean Grey. In Marvel comic books, she has been known under various aliases — Marvel Girl, Phoenix and Dark Phoenix. A mutant, Grey was born with telepathic and telekinetic powers. She rivals Professor Xavier in her mind-…


June 07, 2019

Capsules of movies playing locally. New releases are indicated with an asterisk.

A DOG’S JOURNEY — A reincarnated dog embarks on a lifelong quest to watch over its owner's young granddaughter. (1 hour, 48 minutes) Rated PG.

ALADDIN — A street urchin teams up with a wisecracking…

Film Cannes Preview - Rocketman-3

June 05, 2019

Dad describes her as spirited. Mom says she’s expressive. Teachers report she’s a quick learner. Most everyone is impressed by how well she speaks for one so young. They’re surprised to learn she is deaf.

At age 10, Allison White already exceeds expectations. She reads aloud and…

Allison during therapy.jpg
206 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 21
        Next Page»   Last Page»