Hippobroma longiflora (L.) G. Don

Etymology Genus Horse (Hippo) fury (bromos); referring to its poison which can drive horses mad
Species Long flower
Family Campanulaceae
Synonyms Lobelia longiflora L., Laurentia longiflora (L.) Peterm.
Common Names Star of Bethlehem, Madam Fate
Status Exotic: Naturalised
Form Herb
Native Distribution The Caribbean


An easily recognisable herb because of its rosette leaf arrangement. Its leaves are pinnately-lobed, the margins are lined with teeth, and they lack a petiole. The mid-vein is also very prominent. The white flowers have a long stalk and are five-petalled. It prefers shady areas.

Interesting Facts:

One has to be careful handling this plant as it contains a poisonous white sap (lobelanidine) that can cause irritation on contact. It also may even cause blindness if it gets onto the eye, and give a burning sensation when ingested (FloraFaunaWeb, 2010).

The Star of Bethlehem is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, and likely as a result, also naturalised in many tropical and subtropical countries (eFloras, 2008).

A patch of lawn covered by Hippobroma longiflora in the National University of Singapore.

Side view showing its short stem.

Pinnately-lobed leaves are lined with teeth.

Flower resembles a star; hence the common name, Star of Bethlehem.


eFloras. (2008) Hippobroma longiflora (Linnaeus) G. Don, Gen. Flora of China. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge. http://www.efloras.org/. Accessed on 19-Jan-2013.
FloraFaunaWeb. (2010) Laurentia longiflora. National Parks Board, Singapore. https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg. Accessed on 19-Jan-2013.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-01-19 / Modified: 2015-01-11