Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Ornithogalum conicum Jacq.

Robust, half-hardy bulbous perennial with semi-erect, lance-shaped basal leaves which wither in spring and are followed by dense racemes of many cup-shaped white flowers, tinted cream or green at the base. To 1m.  [RHSD, Hortus, CECB].  Ornithogalum conicum is very similar to the true ‘Chincherinchee’, Ornithogalum thyrsoides Jacq., but with smooth- not hairy-margined leaves and usually longer flower stems.  [RHSD].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This [Ornithogalum lacteum] is a native of South Africa; it was introduced some years since: we received ours from Mr. Synnet, who brought it from the Cape.  It flowered in June: the blossoms are beautiful, and of a most delicate white; the stems usually two feet high.  It requires the greenhouse, and when in a dormant state should have little or no water.  It rarely increases itself by offsets from the bulbs.  The soil should be sandy loam’  [LBC no.1159/1827]. 

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine figures Ornithogalum lacteum [BM t.1134/1808] and O. conicum: ‘We are indebted for our knowledge of this plant to Baron Ludwig, who sent bulbs from the Cape of Good Hope to the Glasgow Botanic Garden, in 1835.  Flowering specimens were produced in the greenhouse in the summer of the same year.  The flowers are large, handsome, pure white, the sepals acuminate, spreading, but never curled back as in O. revolutum, to which this plant, in other respects, bears some affinity.’  [BM t.3538/1830].  Andrews’ Botanical Repository cites the introducer of O. lacteum as Lady Miller of Alton, in 1796. 

Victorian authors usually treated Ornithogalum lacteum, and O. conicum as separate species, introduced to Britain in 1796 and 1823 respectively.  [JD, PD].  Ornithogalum thyrsoides Jacq., the true Chincherinchee, has been considered synonymous by some authors but is generally treated as a separate species.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.360/1843].  Received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831.  [MP A2948].


Ornithogalum lacteum Vill. (1787) = Ornithogalum narbonense L., a Mediterranean species.

Published Jan 09, 2010 - 03:35 PM | Last updated Jan 09, 2010 - 05:06 PM

Figured is a flowering shoot with many white, black-centred cup-shaped flowers.  Loddiges Botanical Cabinet no.1159, 1827.

Ornithogalum conicum Jacq. | LBC no.1159/1827 | HAAB

Family Hyacinthaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

  • Ornithogalum lacteum Jacq.
  • Ornithogalum baurii Baker
  • Ornithogalum hygrophilum Hilliard & B.L.Burtt
Common Name

Chincherinchee, Wonder flower, White Star of Bethlehem

Name in the Camden Park Record

Ornithogalum lacteum 

Confidence level high