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Plant Description


Maianthemum racemosum (L.) Link

En: large false Solomon's seal, feathery false Solomon's seal, false spikenard, plumed spikenard
Fr: smilacine à grappes
Oj: agongosi(wi)jiibik, ginebigwashk, agongosimizh, agongosiminan

Asparagaceae (Asparagus Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Maianthemum racemosumhab Maianthemum racemosumflpl Maianthemum racemosumflw Maianthemum racemosumfrpl Maianthemum racemosumfrt Maianthemum racemosumill


General: A perennial forb, to 1 m tall. The simple, slightly zig-zag, arching stem growing from a thick, fleshy rhizome.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, 5–12, parallel-veined, mainly sessile or lower leaves with short petioles. Leaf blades elliptic-lanceolate, 10–25 cm long and 3.5–9.5 cm wide; upper surface smooth (glabrous), lower surface finely hairy; base tapering (cuneate) to rounded; apex sharply pointed (acuminate); margins entire.

Flowers: Bisexual, white, numerous in a branched, terminal cluster (panicle), to 17 cm long, flowers of the inflorescence borne on short slightly hairy stalks (pedicels). Sepals and petals alike (tepals), 6, 1.5–3 mm long; stamens 6, longer than the tepals; pistil 1, the ovary superior. Flowers bloom in June and early July.

Fruit: A cluster of small smooth berries, green and spotted with dark reddish-purple when young, translucent and dark ruby red when mature. Fruits mature in late summer.

Habitat and Range: Rich, deciduous or mixedwood forests. Maianthemum racemosum is native to eastern North America; in Ontario, it has been recorded as far north as Matheson.

Internet Images: The Maianthemum racemosum webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.

Similar Species: The leaves of Polygonatum pubescens (hairy Solomon's-seal) and Streptopus lanceolatus (rose twisted-stalk) are similar to those of Maianthemum racemosum. The rose twisted-stalk can be distinguished by its often branched stem, leaves fringed with short, straight hairs (ciliate margins), and small pink flowers borne in the leaf axils. The leaves and simple stem of the hairy Solomon's-seal are often confused with those of the false Solomon's-seal, but hairy Solomon's-seal can be identified easily by its tubular greenish flowers, growing in pendant pairs in the leaf axils.

Compare Maianthemum racemosum to the webpages of Polygonatum pubescens (hairy Solomon's-seal) and Streptopus lanceolatus (rose twisted-stalk) from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.

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