Flower in Ornithogalum as a taxonomic tool for species identification

Genus Ornithogalum is mostly described as morphologically variable („execrable“) genus, without clear morphological distinction among species. What is noticeable in Ornithogalum – is low number of distinctive qualitative morphological characteristics, in the first place among closely related species. Seed texture was nominated as species specific characteristic, but the latest research refuted that. The flower has the most quantitative characteristics and using morphometric analysis Ornithogalum s.s. species can be differentiated. To present flower differences of eight Ornithogalum species (O. comosum, O. montanum, O. dalmaticum, O kochii, O. umbellatum, O divergens, O sibthorpii, O. refractum), in total 21 characteristics were analysed. Parameters of flower length (perigon length) were correlated with scape, inflorescence and pedicel length, with an aim to merge these characteristics for plant determination key. Ornithogalum comosum and O. montanum were separated as species with „small“ flowers, while O. kochii has medium size flowers. All other investigated species have „large“ flowers. Different combinations of analysed flower characteristics allow species discrimination to some extent. For some species, however, additional characteristics (as scape, inflorescene and pedicel length) are needed for correct plant identification.