Sternbergia is a genus in Amaryllidaceae of around 10 species that show a broad distribution throughout Mediterranean Europe and Asia, and was first described by Clusius in 1601 as Narcissus, before being redescribed by Linnaeus as Amaryllis in 1753. The plant referred to by both these descriptions is now recognised as being Sternbergia lutea, which was described by Waldstein and Kitaibel in 1803, although their first validation of the name Sternbergia was applied to S. colchiciflora.
This genus contains a number of species of flowering bulbs which rather resemble the Crocus. These plants produce golden-yellow goblet-shaped flowers borne on stalks some way above the ground that open during the autumn or early winter. The flower is composed of six stamens and a single style attached to an inferior ovary. Long, strap-like leaves may appear with the flowers or sometime after. The only two exceptions to this are S. vernalis and S. candida which flower in the spring, with S. candida producing striking white flowers.
The genus has gained notability due to the wide-spread use of S. lutea as a garden plant, and it has been found in cultivation for several hundred years, and the species has become naturalised in many parts of northern Europe, greatly extending the natural range of the species.
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