Ornithogalum thyrsoides Jacq.

Synonyms -

Family: - Hyacinthaceae (Liliaceae)


Ornithogalum is from the Greek ornithos meaning bird and gala meaning milk.


Other Names

Cape Lily



Black-eyed Susan


Chincherinchee is an erect, hairless herb with 3-6, broad, strap like and somewhat succulent basal leaves arising from a bulb. The flowering stem is about 300 mm high and held above the leaves with a dense, pyramid-shaped cluster of many white flowers. There are 6 petals each 2-2.5 cm long and usually with a basal greenish brown blotch, 6 yellow stamens and a short undivided style.

Native to South Africa, Chincherinchee has become a problem weed near Tambellup and occurs in other parts of the Great Southern of WA. It flowers in spring and summer.

It is toxic to stock, especially in the autumn.




First Leaves:

Fine and strap like.


All basal, 3-6.
Blade - Succulent, strap like, flat or concave, 100-300mm long by 5-60mm wide. Hairless
Stem leaves - None.


Underground, very short stem.

Flower stem - Cylindrical, 100-500mm long, leafless, unbranched.

Flower head:

11-70 flowered. Terminal. Initially dense and almost conical, becoming longer with age. Initially 30-50mm long lengthening to 100-300mm.


White with a darker centre. Cup or star shaped, on 20-60mm stalks (pedicels). Bisexual. Unpleasantly scented.

Spathe - membranous, broad, pointed tip, white and shiny, 10-40mm long(up to two thirds the length of the pedicel).

Ovary - Superior, 3 celled, oblong, obtuse, dull purple, brown, dark green or pale.

Style - White, cylindrical, short, undivided.
Petals - 6 in two rings, oblong, white usually with a yellowish to blackish brown base on the inside, free, 14-25mm long by 9-12mm wide. Tip pointed to rather flat.
Stamens - 6. The three inner filaments are abruptly broadened near the base into a flat section pressed against the ovary. There are 2 incurved teeth at the top of this flat section. The other 3 filaments widen gradually from the tip to the base.
Anthers - attached near the middle on the back, versatile, 2celled, release pollen by longitudinal slits.


Round to egg shaped, angular capsule, about 15-50mm wide.


Black with 'warts'. About 120 per flower.


Underground bulb, 10-30mm diameter with fleshy layers and membranous tunics. Bulb scales pale brown. Fine feeder roots.

Key Characters:


Leaves all basal.

Aerial flowering stem simple.

Flowers bisexual, pedicellate

Perianth segments more than 2 cm long and white and yellowing to blackish brown on the inside near the base. All lacking a glandular tip.

Inflorescence simple, flowers always 1 in the axil of each bract.

11-70 flowers in the inflorescence.

Alternate filaments square towards the base, never bearded

Adapted from John Black and T.D. Macfarlane.


Life cycle:

Perennial with annual tops. Seeds germinate from autumn to spring and form a small bulb in the first year. Leaves die off over summer with the onset of summer drought. New leaves emerge in the following autumn after rain and the old bulb is exhausted and a new one forms in spring. The leaves die off again in summer. This process is repeated until the bulb attains sufficient size and then a flowering stem is produced in the spring and flowers appear in September to October. The leaves have often withered by the time the plant flowers.



By seed and bulb.

Flowering times:

October to December in WA.

October to February in SA

Seed Biology and Germination:

Produces about 500 seeds per plant.

Vegetative Propagules:



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed and bulbs. Water appears to be an important vector for spread as infestations often run along water courses.

Origin and History:

South Africa.

A garden escape that has naturalised in the Darling Range, Kalamunda, Tambellup and Busselton.



South Africa, Indonesia.



Medium to high rainfall areas.


Winter waterlogged soils.

Plant Associations:






Weed of wetter grasslands and pastures, roadsides, cemeteries and water courses.


All parts of the plant are toxic, including the seeds.

Toxic to stock. Sheep losses have been recorded in autumn and early winter.


Death several days after exposure to the infestation.


Remove stock from infested areas.


Noxious weed of South Australia.

Management and Control:

Tolerant to most herbicides.

Sulfonylurea herbicides such as chlorsulfuron and metsulfuron in early winter provide reasonable control in cropping areas.

Arsenal provides high levels of control at rates of 1000 mL/ha when applied in August before flowering.

Glyphosate and hormone herbicides provide very little control.

Application of herbicides after flowering is ineffective.

Cultivation in summer is expected to provide some control.

The use of imidazolinone tolerant crops may be very useful to reduce infestations.


Eradication strategies:

This plant is very difficult to control. It can be dug out providing the bulbs are removed and burnt. Seedlings will need control in the following winter. Glyphosate is ineffective. 1 g of metsulfuron(600g/kg) plus 25 mL Pulse® in 10 L water provides partial control. 10 mL Clearsol® plus 25 mL Pulse® in 10 L of water is best. Spray the plants before flowering and a 1 m buffer area around each plant to control seedling emergence. This treatment will kill a wide range of companion plants for about one year after spraying. Repeat for several years until no more plants appear then revegetate the area.

Don't plant invasive bulbous species and burn surplus bulbs from gardens.

Herbicide resistance:

Tolerant to most herbicides.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Lesser Cape Lily (Ornithogalum arabicum)

Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

Ornithogalum longibracteatum

Ornithogalum pyramidale

Plants of similar appearance:

Agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox) is larger has more leaves and usually has blue flowers in globular heads.

Grape Hyacinth (Muscari species) has blue, globular flowers.

Soldiers (Lachenalia aloides) has brown blotches on the leaves and tubular yellow flowers on reddish brown stems.

Tulips (Tulipa species) look similar when young but have single flowers later.


Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P354. Diagrams.

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Ciba Geigy (1982) Monocot Weeds 3. CIBA GEIGY Ltd, Basle, Switzerland. P. 130. Diagrams.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P28.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #727.4.

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P781.


Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or for more information.