Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yellow star of Bethlehem

Today's Guardian Country Diary describes a search for yellow star of Bethlehem Gagea lutea, an elusive little lily that I first found in Weardale 40 years ago and which still grows in exactly the same spot, beside the river Wear at Wolsingham.

The individual flowers are a little smaller than a lesser celandine and only develop this vibrant yellow colour for a day or two.

This is the whole inflorescence, where you can see that the flowers are pale green when they open, only developing their full colour when they are ready for pollination, after which they quickly fade. The backs of the tepals remain green, making it very inconspicuous when they are facing downwards. It's an early bloomer, often in late March or early April - but not this year, when it didn't put in an appearance until the end of the month.

The plants are small and hard to spot amongst the ground elder, sweet cicely and ramsons leaves. This photo was taken on 29th. April and by now the plants will be completely hidden under the surrounding vegetation. If you double-click for a larger image you'll see two plants in flower - one just to the right of centre and the other in the centre of the top left-hand quadrant.


  1. Such beauty hidden away.
    I'd easily miss these little gems.


  2. It's always a struggle to find it Keith, but worth the effort..


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