Maianthemum stellatum

Starry False Solomon's Seal

Starry False Solomon's Seal, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Robert Bierman
Starry False Solomon's Seal
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium
and Robert Bierman

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Maianthemum, from the Latin, "May blossom"
  • stellatum, from the Latin, "starry"
  • Common Name, from
  • Other common names include Starry Solomon's Seal, False Solomon's Seal, Bog False Solomon's Seal, Star-Flowered Solomon's Seal, Starry Solomon Plume, Starry Smilac, Spikenard

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Liliopsida, the Monocotyledons
      • Subclass Liliidae, the Lilies
        • Order Liliales, the Lilies
          • Family Liliaceae, the Lilies
            • Genus Maianthemum, the Beadrubies
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 503656
  • Also known as Convallaria stellata, Smilacina liliacea, Smilacina sessilifolia, Smilacina stellata, Smilacina stellata var. crassa, Smilacina stellata var. mollis, Smilacina stellata var. sessilifolia, Smilacina stellata var. sylvatica, Vagnera liliacea, Vagnera sessilifolia, Vagnera stellata

Description:

  • A rhizomatous perennial forb, 8"-24" tall.
  • Stem erect.
  • Leaves alternate.
  • Flowers white, 5-10 in a terminal raceme.
  • Fruits glabose.
  • Roots of two sorts; a large root that grows straight downward occurs at the junction between some segments; numerous small roots run in all directions from the rhizome.

Identification:

  • Distinguished from the true Solomon's Seals by having its flowers at the end of the stem.

Distribution:

  • Alaska to California; south to Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona; east to the New England states, and south through the Carolinas.

Habitat:

  • Generally an indicator of moist environments; also occurring on rocky, well-drained sidehills. Common in thickets and open forests on gently sloping benches adjacent to streams.
  • Soils usually shallow, derived from calcareous and noncalcareous parent materials. Soil texture from gravelly loams to silt and sandy loams. Soil acidity neutral to acidic (average pH 5.9).
  • Successional herb species.

Fire:

  • A survivor species following fire, sprouting from surviving rhizomes in mineral soil.
  • Moderately resistant to fire-kill. Fire will consume all aboveground parts, sparing the rhizome, or it may be killed by fire that removes the duff and heats the upper mineral layer.

Associates:

  • Trees: White Spruce (Picea glauca), Black Spruce (Picea mariana), Aspens (Populus spp.)
  • Shrubs: Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.), Willows (Salix spp.)
  • Herbs: Bedstraws (Galium spp.), False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina racemosa)
  • Birds: Ruffed Grouse eat the berries in the fall.

History:

  • The Nuxalk Indians of British Columbia collected the ripe berries from July to August for food.

Uses:

Reproduction:

  • Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes
  • Regenerates primarily through rhizomes, which grow rapidly and develop into long, complex systems. Roots steadily die off so that the oldest rhizome segments have few roots remaining.
  • Rhizomes can produce aerial stems, annual shoots which normally bear 7-9 leaves and occasionally produce flowers at the tip.
  • Seed dispersal by wildlife consumers.
  • Pollination by insects.

Propagation:

  • By seed.

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Prefers cool, moist soils.
  • Not generally available commercially.

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Last Updated on 2 November, 2002