False Solomon's Seal is a colonizer that spreads very slowly, so gardeners, we don't have to worry that it will crowd out our beloved Spring ephemerals like other colonizing natives have been known to do. I find it makes a charming ground cover beneath understory trees in a woodland garden. In my garden it mingles with Golden ragwort, Christmas ferns and Purple phacelia. It likes rich, loamy woodland soil, but, is tolerant of both moist and dry conditions.
|crooked arching stems and large leaves of early spring are attention grabbers|
The plume might have up to 80 star shaped flowers that are pollinated by small bees, flies, and beetles. The bees collect nectar and pollen from the flowers, while flies and beetles feed on the pollen. Crab spiders and ambush bugs hang out on the flowering plumes, just waiting for a small bee or beetle to stop by.
|crab spider hiding on flowering plume|
It's not always easy to watch the little pollinators get grabbed by a predator, but, that happens in a wildlife friendly garden. Those predators are soon preyed upon by larger spiders and birds and those birds could be dinner for a hawk...But, I digress! Which is very easy to do when you begin talking about gardening for wildlife.
|Berries are starting to form|
|Fruit is a cluster of waxy berries, each 1/8 inch across, that turn bright red when ripe|
|Photo by Vick, Albert F. W. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center|
The ripe berries are eaten by woodland birds and mice. It's thought that a trip through the digestive tract of a critter helps the seeds germinate, it is also a good way for seeds to be dispersed around the garden. Deer don't seem to browse them, but, they are hidden beneath the understory trees. In this case, Rusty Blackhaw and a fall blooming witch hazel.
False Solomon's Seal has been used medicinally to treat coughs, but, I don't harvest them. The flowers and color show feed my soul and the berries feed the resident critters.
Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina racemosa)
Commonly known as False Solomon's Seal
Family: Asparagaceae no longer a Lily family member
USDA Zones: 3-8
Native range: Entire North American continent
Plant Spacing: 18-24"
Exposure: Full Sun/Part Shade/ Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet-Mesic/ Mesic (Medium)/Dry-Mesic Dry
Height: 2 feet
Bloom Color: White with golden yellow stamens
Bloom Time: April/May/June
Plant Type: Wildflowers (Forbs)
Beneficial: A pollen and nectar food for bees, beetles, flies. A seed food for rodents and songbirds
Availability: Is available online~ seeds, plants and roots. Locally: GroWild
Comments: Love it used as a ground cover in wildflower/naturalistic gardens, plant with Solomon's Seal, Christmas ferns, wild ginger and Golden ragwort. Best in naturalized plantings, wild gardens, native plant gardens, or woodland gardens. But seriously, use it however you want, after all, it's your garden.
Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday. This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.