Maianthemum racemosum (False Solomon's Seal)

Plant Info
Also known as: Solomon's Plume, Feathery False Lily-of-the-Valley
Genus:Maianthemum
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Plume-like cluster 3 to 5 inches long and about 2 inches across of up to 80 star-shaped flowers. Individual flowers are 1/8-inch across, made up of 3 white petals and 3 petal-like sepals so it looks like 6 petals. The stamen tips are cream colored or pale yellow.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves]  Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 3 inches across, oval and pointed at the tip. There is little or no leaf stalk. The leaf edges are a bit wavy but otherwise smooth. Leaves are hairy underneath and have heavy parallel veins. The stem is not upright, but grows at an angle or arcing, the flower cluster often rising as if seeking the sun. The stem is finely hairy and typically zig-zags between the alternately attached leaves.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a cluster of waxy berries, each 1/8 inch across, that turn bright red when ripe.

Notes:

Just looking at the leaves, False Solomon's Seal, Smooth Solomon's Seal and Starry False Solomon's Seal are all similar. Starry False Solomon's Seal prefers sunnier habitats, has fewer, larger flowers, plus its stem is often more upright and its leaves are more narrow and stiffer than False Solomon's Seal. Smooth Solomon's Seal has racemes of flowers on the underside of the arcing stem, rather than a plume at the end. False Solomon's Seal often goes by Latin name Smilacina racemosa but the accepted name in Minnesota is Maianthemum racemosum; there are 2 recognized subspecies with subsp. racemosum found in Minnesota. Formerly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, all Maianthemum species have been reassigned to Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Valerie - Spring Grove
on: 2013-08-06 19:14:03

I spotted this one today with ripe fruit while walking the Norwegian Ridge Birding and Nature Trail in Spring Grove (Houston County).

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2016-06-08 20:03:18

I have these scattered throughout my hill amoung hundreds of other green plants. The gold berries at the end of the season are unique and frequently I'll include them in a bouquet.

Posted by: Susan - Jay Cooke Park/Duluth
on: 2016-08-26 21:43:43

Found a healthy-looking plant with a large bunch of still-mottled berries, in a mostly deciduous, dense woods high above the St. Louis River, and slightly inland. This area is still free of invasive.

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