Dove’s Dung = Star of Bethlehem
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: M Woods
Posted on: September 22, 2003

Is there a plant called doves dung? If so is it used for medicinal or culinary purposes?

"Dove’s dung" is a biblical name for a herb called star of bethlehem. The botanical name of the most common species is Ornithogalum umbellatum. As is often case with herbs of long time use, it has many colourful local names such as eleven-o’clock-lady, jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, john-go-in-bed-at-noon, nap-at-noon, peep o’day, six o’clock flowers, sleepy Dick, and so on. Most of the names refer to the fact that the white star-shaped flowers open when the sun is out.

Today, star of bethlehem is grown mostly as an ornamental in gardens, But it is closely related to onions and chives and in biblical times the bulbs was considered to be a nutritious food plant and a delicacy. The bulbs are roasted in the Middle East where they are still called "dove’s dung".

For more information see Mrs. Grieve’s "A Modern Herbal" online at

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