Maianthemum racemosum (False Solomon's Seal)

Plant Info
Also known as: Solomon's Plume, Feathery False Lily-of-the-Valley
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
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.


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.


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.

Posted by: Rebecca Sterner - Lakeville
on: 2019-06-09 23:16:35

I live on 20 acres of an oak forest. Found a large group of these in a back yard that I leave wild. Have been trying to weed out all but native plants. This long, wet spring has given us all sorts of new plants,

Posted by: Kathy & Douglas Wood - Stearns county north of Sartell in our woods along the Misdi
on: 2020-02-13 03:08:51

These grow in our yard

Posted by: Ron Johannsen - Trenton Lake Freeborn co. Mn.
on: 2020-05-07 19:20:35

Many now out with rest of ephemeral family, jack in pulpits

Posted by: Al Wachutka - Golden Valley
on: 2020-06-01 17:36:52

In the oak forest. In bloom right now.

Posted by: Ron Johannsen - Trenton lake
on: 2021-05-13 19:08:34

Many blooming now along with the bedstraw.

Posted by: Calvin Utrex - Winona
on: 2023-06-01 07:33:46

Found two of these in our yard at base of Sugarloaf bluff in Winona. Have seen a couple stems each year along our fence line. This year the stems are very stout and very dark reddish brown. Flowering right now. We have a dozen or so clumps of smooth Solomon's seal (also more robust this year), but only this is one patch of racemosum.

Posted by: Megan - Forest Township
on: 2023-06-14 20:34:47

I have it in my backyard.

Posted by: Kathy Bruzer - Hillman
on: 2023-07-01 17:36:21

Surprise in my vegetable garden

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