Maianthemum stellatum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: false Solomon's seal 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Best grown in rich, loose, humusy, consistently moist but well-drained soils in part shade. Prefers climates with moderate summer temperatures. Generally intolerant of the hot and humid summers of the deep South. Also intolerant of dry soils. Propagate by division in early autumn or by seed. Spreads by creeping rhizomes to form colonies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Maianthemum stellatum, commonly called false Solomon's seal, starry false Solomon's seal or star flower, is a creeping rhizomatous perennial that is native to moist woods, slopes, prairies and meadows from Newfoundland to British Columbia south to California, Arizona, Missouri, Indiana and Virginia extending further south in the Appalachians to Georgia. In Missouri, it is primarily found north of the Missouri River in mesic bottomland and upland forests (Steyermark). Each plant grows to 10-20" tall on a single stem clad with alternate, lanceolate to narrow-elliptic, stem-clasping leaves (to 5-6" long) with rounded bases and pointed tips. Leaves are finely pubescent below. Each stem is topped in May-June by a 2-3" long terminal raceme containing 6-15 white to greenish-white, 6-tepaled, star-shaped flowers (each to 3/8" across). Flowers give way to globose fruits (to 1/4" diameter) which mature from green with blue-black stripes to blackish-red to black. Young shoots in spring may be used as an asparagus substitute. Fruit is bitter-tart but edible.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Convallaria stellata (Linnaeus 1753) and Smilacina stellata (Desfontaines 1807), but is now included by many experts in the genus Maianthemum (see LaFrankie 1986). Nomenclature disputes over the proper genus name for this plant are ongoing, in part because Smilacina flowers are trimerous and Maianthemum flowers are dimerous (see discussion in Steyermark).

Genus name comes from the Greek words Maios meaning May and anthemon meaning blossom.

Specific epithet means star-shaped in reference to flower shape. The flowers of true Solomon's seal (Polygonatum) are bell-shaped and hang from the leaf axils along the stem, whereas the flowers from false Solomon's seal (Maianthemum) are star-shaped and located in terminal clusters.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Best naturalized in moist woodland gardens. Pond or stream peripheries. Effective with hostas and ferns.