Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: False Solomon's Seal

Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina racemosa) is the star of April's Wildflower Wednesday.

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.
I am very fond of it and appreciate that it is attractive in the garden from early spring to winter frost.
crooked arching stems and large leaves of early spring are attention grabbers
The crooked arching stems and large leaves of early spring are attention grabbers, but soon the white flowers take center stage.
 Each plant produces a plume of slightly fragrant snow-white flowers with creamy or pale yellow stamen tips in April in my Middle Tennessee garden (Zone 6b/7a)

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
All those busy little bees, flies and beetles pollinate the flowers and soon greenish berries follow. They'll continue to swell and darken over the summer. 
Fruit is a cluster of waxy berries, each 1/8 inch across, that turn bright red when ripe
 By August they are a delightful mottled red. The color show doesn't stop there, the berries turn a dark cherry red when ripe and look stellar against the fading and browning foliage.
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.

The Particulars
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.


  1. Beautiful!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!

  2. This one is a beauty. I haven't ever really looked at its flowers up close. They are very pretty.

  3. I have this in my garden and it survives, but does not seem to thrive here. (In fact, now that you've reminded me, I don't think I've seen it this year.) I don't know that I've ever seen the flowers or the berries. I think it emerges from dormancy, says "Ugh! It's too hot and dry and sunny here," and retreats below ground for another year. :P

  4. I've always meant to get this plant. The fruit is beautiful.

  5. One of my favs: Well behaved, enjoyed by pollinators, pretty berries. And, like most natives handles what comes its way. The original plant has been in my garden for 28 years - and really hasn't spread beyond its original boundaries. I'll be long gone before I have a show like the photograph from the LBJ Wildflower Center!

  6. Ha! Great minds think alike! I finished my post about its "cousin" and was surprised to see your beautiful post covered this other very worthy related plant. :) Thanks for hosting!

  7. I love the way you go into detail with information about the plants you feature, Gail. I am also glad you are flexible with people like me who end up posting lots of different kinds of plants, and do not give much information about them. I have photos ready for my post, and hope to get it done by this evening.

  8. like Sue, mine is a this month in my garden - but I do see bizzing and buzzing among my flowers.

    That zig zag stem would be attractive in a vase.

  9. (sorry, Gail. Can you delete the /'s duplicate in Mr Linky?)

  10. Lovely and you always provide useful and interesting information. I have some Trilliums to show today for Wildflower Wednesday!

  11. I love it for the lush, green foliage. Great photos as always, Gail.

  12. I also have False Solomon's Seal growing wild in my yard, it is a delightful plant. I don't recall seeing the berries, I'll have to look for them this year.

  13. I'm writing about my spicebush this month. It doesn't look like much yet, but I have hopes for its future!

  14. I always love seeing this plant. Hopefully now that the deer are shut out of the garden some will seed in from the surrounding area, or maybe I'll buy some and plant it. I didn't realize how broad the range of this plant is. It grows everywhere!

  15. "My" deer will eat this to the ground unless I take preventative measures. This year I was unfortunately not quick enough so they are gone for the year.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson