Star of Bethlehem: Beautiful Alien

Star-of-Bethlehem came into my garden when our swimming pool first came down and I was in need of some plants. A gardener I’d known brought these invasive little beauties over. I’d told her I really wanted native and things that would not take over but she claimed the bulbs are so easy to simply pull up. Well years later they continue to spread and I continue to pull. Pretty? Yes, but possibly they should remain in Europe and the Mediterranean where they originally came from.

Star-of-Bethlehem is not part of my ultraviolet exhibit as the focus is on plants that are native to New England, or at least the adjacent states. It sure is pretty and it is thought bees are the pollinators. While that may sound good keep in mind not all nectar is created equal. We would not consider orange juice and soda to have the same nutritional value. Nor should we assume it attracts all or at least some beneficial insects as they can be fussy about what they want to taste.

I will have to gather my camera gear and take a closer look at visitors in April when these once again take up their mission of conquering all the open garden space they can.

It is always a surprise to see the world through the ultraviolet light that our wild ones would see. The commonplace green foliage and white flower transform into something hard to predict or imagine.

I am presently in the midst of a website overhaul and updating so excuse the messiness. If you would like to see a few more of the series they are found at:…/G0000ARKh.ktD_Z0

Prints are available on a variety of papers. For the exhibit, I used a Hahnemuhle metallic cotton rag baryta because of the way the brilliant flowers stood out against the black and the edges tear nicely into jagged edges. Message any questions.

Lotus: One Genus, Nelumbo with two Species

 “As the lotus rises on its stalk unsoiled by the mud and water, so the wise one speaks of peace and is unstained by the opinions of the world.” – Buddha

Nelumbo nucifera
Nelumbo nucifera


One Genus, Nelumbo with two Species, N. lutea in North America and N. nucifera in tropical and subtropical East Asia and Australia.  Tubers, rhizomes, young leaves, and seeds of both species are edible.

In the environment N. lutea is visited by many bee species, home to some moth caterpillars, provides food for Canada Goose, Mallard, and Northern Shoveler, and provide habitat and shelter for wildlife.

Many visit the street-side Hamilton Harbour Lotus Garden in North Kingston, RI to admire the pink beauty of the Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera. N. nucifera is sacred to both the Hindus and Buddhists and the national flower of India and Vietnam. They were planted in the early 1980s to add beauty to the condominium complex and they have accomplished their task as can be seen by the crowds gathered each bloom season.

Yet in Cranston Lake in Cranston, RI a call is made to volunteers and those with kayaks and canoes to help collect seed pods from this noxious and highly aggressive invasive plant that poses a threat to native plants and aquatic life.  Presently it has become established and colonized 1.25 acres of the 12 acre lake hindering boating and other recreational opportunities.  A dumpster will be available for disposal of the seed pods brought in by boaters and collected by volunteers on land. Since the plant reproduces by seed and rhizomes, this will merely prevent further spread by seed and will not eliminate the proposed use of herbicides in the future.

“DEM said it’s urgent that the growth of this invasive species is culled, and the population managed, so it doesn’t spread to other areas in the state or New England.”

Typically white flowers are associated with purity, innocence, elegance, perfection, and sympathy while pink represent grace, gentleness, happiness, love, and femininity.

Given a choice, why is it we too often have picked the exotic over the native? Is it simply because it is different and we cannot appreciate the beauty and importance of what we have? Importing, exporting, trading, and collecting of plants has been going on since at least the late 14-00s.  It is time to consider the many consequences of our decisions. In many ways we know better and we need to do better for our environment and ourselves.

The origin of the Hamilton Harbour lotus garden August 13, 2015

Fast-Spreading Lotus takes Over Cranston Lake July 16, 2019

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