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Star of Bethleham

Posted by rootwad z5 Ozarks (My Page) on
Thu, May 8, 08 at 23:50

About 5 years ago we found a clump of this plant near our house. Now, we live in a very remote area in the Missouri Ozarks. Our house is in the center of 40 acres and the nearest neighbor is over a mile away. The sob (what an appropriate acronym) just showed up. We dug it up and killed it. However, each year we find new plants some as much as 50 feet away. We dig them all up and destroy them. It amazes me that this plant is so persistent. I am curious how this can spread without going to seed as we have never allowed that to happen. I'm also curious as to how it got here.

For 8 years I worked in a town about 50 miles northwest of here. This town is the sob capitol of Missouri. When you drive through downtown and surrounding blocks, the yards and ditches are white with the stuff. Do you think that somehow I brought seeds home on my car?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Star of Bethleham

Hi Rootwad,

My guess, is that a bird, wind, critter, or human (inadvertently of course) planted the seeds years ago. They will probably continue to show up forever, since it is in the state, though it isn't really close to you. The 22 acre field here is green with it each spring. I'm sure it wasn't planted, but just spread by seeds over time. There is not a lot in the woods thankfully, and where I do find it is mainly around the edges. My whole yard is infested with the stuff, not allowing me to plant things where I want to, since I don't want to plant in the middle of where it is growing.

Oh, I could go on a real rant about sob...see member page.
Each spring I dig, and dig wheelbarrow loads of the 6' or so clumps containing hundreds of the tiny bulbs, trying to clear some more area, so I can make a bed or plant something that is sob free.

You do know this is not a native...right? It is what is referred to as an 'introduced' wildflower. I'm not sure of its origin, but I suspect its real origin to be hell....thus The Flower From Hell, as an elderly friend of mine named it.


Here is a link that might be useful: a rant of mine

RE: Star of Bethleham

It is cultivated by some. The essential oil from the plant is used as an herbal remedy. I don't think you can blame yourself for all the SOB about town. Its invasive and spreads readily.

RE: Star of Bethleham

Thanks for the moral support Sue and Joepye. I've been gardening with Missouri natives for 20 years now. In my ignorance before going native, I have introduced some lethal plants most of which have been fairly easy to eradicate (ajuga, dame's rocket). Vinca minor, however, will probably take the rest of my life to get rid of. It makes me quite sad to think I introduced that evil plant to my woodland.

The SOB really does frighten me. Sue, I've been putting kerosene on what I dig up and burning it. I understand your rant and what you are going through. I think the SOB would be harder to eradicate than the vinca which is very scary. Good luck to you.

Joepye, my own joepyeweed is about a foot tall right now. Have you ever been to north Georgia when the joepyeweed is blooming? My son lives out there and we visit usually in the fall. The Toccoa River is one of our favorite floating rivers. The joepyeweed is the same color as my Missouri native but it is HUGE and so is the ironweed. A real feast for the eyes.

Thanks again. RW

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