Northern Ontario Plant Database
Polygonatum pubescens (Willd.) Pursh
En: hairy Solomon's seal, downy Solomon's seal
Asparagaceae (Asparagus Family)
General: A perennial forb, to 1.1 m tall. Stems simple, erect and arching, smooth (glabrous), often with a pale bloom (glaucous); growing from a horizontal, somewhat flattened, white rhizome, the old aerial stems leaving distinctive round scars (the "seals" of Solomon) on the rhizome.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, parallel-veined, sessile. Leaf blades narrow or broadly elliptic to lanceolate, 4–14 cm long, 1.5–7.5 cm wide; upper surface green, smooth, lower surface paler, with fine hairs along the veins and often with a pale bloom (glaucous); the base slightly tapering (cuneate) to rounded; apex blunt to pointed (acute); margins entire.
Flowers: Bisexual, green, usually in clusters of pendant 2 flowers (rarely 3–4 flowers), the flower stalks (peduncles) axillary, smooth. Sepals and petals alike (tepals), green to yellowish-green, fused into a tubular corolla, 7–13 mm long, with 6 blunt, spreading lobes; stamens 6, attached to the inside of the tubular corolla; pistil 1, the ovary superior. Flowers bloom in late May to mid June.
Fruit: Bluish-black berries, smooth, globose. Fruits mature in summer.
Habitat and Range: Rich deciduous and mixedwood forests and thickets. The hairy Solomon's-seal is native to eastern North America. In Ontario, it is found as far north as the Batchawana and Lake Timiskaming areas.
Nomenclatural Notes: Polygonatum pubescens was previously placed in the Lily Family (Liliaceae), but recent work by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group now places it in the Ruscaceae, a new family that includes Solomon's-seals, false Solomon's seals, and lilies-of-the-valley.
Internet Images: The Polygonatum pubescens webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.
Similar Species: Another Polygonatum species, Polygonatum biflorum (smooth Solomon's-seal), is found in southern Ontario. It has smooth (glabrous) leaves and up to 10 flowers on each flower stalk. Compare downy Solomon's seal to the Polygonatum biflorum website from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.
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