Today, we have a photograph of Ipheion uniflorum, or the spring starflower. This image was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by frequent contributor, Christopher Young (aka c.young@Flickr”). Thanks, Christopher, for sharing!
Ipheion uniflorum (syn. Tristagma uniflorum) is a South American species, occurring natively in Argentina and Uruguay. Not difficult to grow, this bulbous species with its grassy foliage is often cultivated (and occasionally naturalizes in or near gardens). The spring starflower has attractive star-shaped flowers that range in colour from white to violet to blue.
The flowers have a mildly spicy fragrance. This smell is characteristic to many of the genera within the onion subfamily (Allioideae) of the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis family). Chemically, the scent is due to the presence of organosulfur compounds such as allyl propyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide and allyl methyl sulfide. These compounds are of economic use: they have been used as food flavourings, but also medicinally for antimicrobial and disease prevention properties.