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Star-of-Bethlehem

Did You Know?

A few facts:

  • Can be toxic to livestock
  • Looks similar to wild garlic

How to get rid of star-of-Bethlehem:

  • Treat with herbicides

Information by Rakesh Chandran, Ph.D., WVU Extension Service Weed Science Specialist

Am I Seeing Stars in My Yard?

During the spring and summer months, we often celebrate the holidays by proudly displaying the stars and stripes. In addition to the American flag, many of you may also see a different kind of star in your lawns and pastures.

Star-of-Bethlehem Identification

The star-of-Bethlehem is a perennial weed that resembles wild garlic. You will find it growing in the spring months in lawns and pastures of West Virginia. It doesn’t have the distinct smell of wild garlic and can be identified by its slender succulent leaves that have a prominent whitish midrib with round hollow leaves. And, if you don’t mind it, it actually produces a beautiful white, star-shaped flower with six petals.

The star-of-Bethlehem flowers in late April or early May and typically completes its life cycle by the end of May. It is known to contain toxic glycosides (especially the flowers/bulbs) that can cause poisoning to children or livestock that consume the plant parts. It remains dormant in the fields during winter months.

Controls for Star-of-Bethlehem

You can try to dig up the star-of-Bethlehem, but it won’t be easy. The best solution is to use an herbicide containing carfentrazone (Speedzone, Q4, etc.) to provide good control for this weed and you will want to apply it during the weed’s early growth stages. If the weed has taken over, it may be nearly impossible to manage. You may want to consider killing all vegetation and re-seeding the lawn/grass, particularly if you have livestock in that area.


Author: Rakesh Chandran, WVU Extension Weed Science Specialist
Last Reviewed: May 2018

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by West Virginia University Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.