Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Giant Chincherinchee
Ornithogalum saundersiae

Family: Hyacinthaceae
Genus: Ornithogalum (or-ni-THOG-al-um) (Info)
Species: saundersiae

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 9 photos.
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4 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive HalfWild On Oct 29, 2012, HalfWild from Boonsboro, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

Easy easy easy. Here at the edge between zones 6 & 7 I've never had any of the (many many) seeds sprout, so no problems with invasiveness. The original 10 or 12 bulbs I was given around 8 years ago have multiplied to 78 with no special feeding and just normal rainfall. I lift the bulbs every fall, and keep them in a cardboard box, loosely covered. They are ready to take off in spring. Very forgiving and the flowers are strange, stately, and so snowy white that their dark centers make them seem to glow. The seed heads & stalks are cool in dried flower arrangements too.

I failed to dig them up before the first frost once, but the bulbs were fine. However, I don't recommend waiting that long because when frost kills the leaves they become gooey & smelly in less than 48 hours.

I didn't know about the toxicity... Hopefully our dog and small army of cats will continue to ignore them as they always have!

Positive KelleyBee On May 2, 2010, KelleyBee from Greensburg, PA wrote:

I was given this as a tender bulb for the 2008 planting season. I live in PA and our winters are too harsh to leave in the ground, so each fall, I lift the bulbs for over winter in the basement and replant int he spring. There hasn't been any problems with encroachment with this bulb. As a matter of fact, this will be my third growing season with it (2010) and I still only have the original three bulbs. I was hoping it would produce more so I could share them, but thus far, they've not reproduced, but have only sustained themselves. I will post a photo of mine, as well. I find it a positive and interesting addition to my front garden. This year I plan to grow them potted rather than in the ground.

Positive cheerpeople On Feb 21, 2009, cheerpeople from northwest, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have collected seeds from this and they will bloom in just 3 years from seed. I have to dig them and put them in the basement for our winters. My tallest got 5 ft in bloom this summer. Takes wind without staking. Does not require additional watering other than rain here. Easy!

Negative claudib On May 21, 2008, claudib from Rio De Janeiro
Brazil wrote:

While them were marvelous plants in my garden, I really loved them. But, unfortunatelly, this last weekend, I lost TWO Yorkshires, both of which have chewed pieces of plants' leaves and bulbs.
When I bought these bulbs, no one told me about their poisonous effects, mainly in livestock.
After lots of time researching about them, I found some references in FDA database.
Be warned! They're beautiful. But they also kill. And this can happen in less than 10 hours.
User marwood0, from CO, has posted a note on Apr 3, 2008, telling us to be careful about its poisonous effect.
After what I went thru, I have to agree with him and ask: is there any known antidotes vets can use, when animals eat them? Are there any treatment steps, otherwise? We tried everything down here: atropine, epinephrine, adrenaline, oxygen, whatever... And nothing worked out.
My intent is to identify the causes of this unthinkably sorrow mishap and share whatever info I can obtain with Poison Central Agency of my country, which, amazingly, have no info on these bulbs. :(
Thanks in advance.
Regards from Rio,

PS: Are they also poisonous to humans?

Positive marwood0 On Apr 3, 2008, marwood0 from Golden, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

One of my favorites! A real beauty, (also called "Beauty de Veldt" because it comes from the Veld or Veldt of southern Africa) growing without complaint in poor soil. Grows in rich soil too. Few or no insect problems. Drought tolerant and very forgiving. Seeds do not appear to need stratification. Multiplies by bulbs and seeds, though it takes some time (years) to bloom from seed. New bulb splits usually bloom the second year. Mildly frost tolerant. We dig them up each year after the first frost and chop off the vegetative parts and store the bulbs over winter. The seeds primarily stay in their pods and have never self sprouted for us this way. Don't eat this plant; it's poisonous and reputed to kill livestock.

Neutral salvia_lover On Jan 10, 2005, salvia_lover from Modi'in
Israel wrote:

I truly love how this attracts bees (and wasps), and butterflies. I also think it is a very attractive plant with lovely white balls of flowers. So I suppose that would mean I should give it a positive mark. However, it produces an astounding number of small seeds and any of them that fall on the ground will germinate. I hated losing the bee/wasp interest as I truly loved taking photos of them, but I ended up removing this one from my garden 4 months ago and I'm dealing with literally hundreds of new seedlings daily. I have no idea how I'm going to finally get rid of them all!

Neutral footsie2468 On Mar 25, 2004, footsie2468 from Wauregan, CT wrote:

I just purchased this plant and here is what the tag says:
remarkably longlasting, blossoms come in white,orange,light coral,and yellow.
temperture=38-90 50-80 is ideal in dormancy the bulbs below the ground levelcan tolerate as low 10
light=slightly shadedfull sun or, bright indoor light
water=moist, but not soggy. tolerates periods of drought
fertilizer=nome required while blooming
soil=top soil,peat moss,sand(1:2:1 ratio)
I have always been able to get this as a cut flower from my garden center, but this a first time that i have seem it as a potted plant.
It also says that you can proagate from bulb off-sets
The cut flowers last for several weeks and I've only seen them in white


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Golden, Colorado
Gainesville, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Chadwick, Illinois
Boonsboro, Maryland
Greensburg, Pennsylvania

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