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False Solomon's Seal, Feathery False Lily of the Valley, Solomon's Plume - Maianthemum racemosum


Family: Liliaceae - Lily family Genus Common Name: Mayflower Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Maianthemum racemosum - False Solomon's Seal, Feathery False Lily of the Valley, Solomon's Plume. Smilacina racemosa is a synonym of Maianthemum racemosum (L.) Link ssp. racemosum (eastern variety), according to USDA Plants Database, which also lists 'Feathery False Lily of the Valley' as the common name. I think the False Solomons Seal name is more appropriate due to the similarity of the plant to Solomon's Seal, and I also think it is in more common use, at least in the Southeastern U.S.

The members of the Smilacina genus were reclassified into the genus Maianthemum in the late 20th century, based on work by LaFrankie, published in 1986. There is some evidence that there has been some effort to move Maianthemum from the Lily family into the Butcher's Broom family, but it appears that has not been widely accepted.

Found in:
AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

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Maianthemum racemosum

Distribution of Maianthemum racemosum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Aug 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: GSMNP, Chestnut Top Trail, Blount County, TN Date: 2016-April-20Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The inflorescence of Maianthemum racemosum is a panicle. A panicle is an inflorescence made up of branches which are individually, as expected based on the species name, racemes. In racemes the flowers are carried on pedicels in various positions along a central stalk.
Maianthemum racemosum

Site: The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2008-April-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D40
1/125f/8 ISO200
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G II ED
55mm (82 equiv) Flash: Yes
Note the flower cluster (inflorescence) on the end of the leaf stalk. In "true" Solomon's Seal the flowers are carried underneath the plant along the stem. Leaves of Maianthemum racemosum are alternate, and either sessile and clasping the stem for subspecies amplexicaule or on petioles fir subspecies racemosum. Stem is arched in racemosum, erect in amplexicaule. Note the distinct veining in the leaves. This is subspecies racemosum.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Maianthemum racemosum

Site: Ponderosa State Park, Valley County, ID Date: 2012-May-31Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The tepals of Maianthemum racemosum are almost missing (although they will get longer as they age), with the anthers being the most prominent part of the blossom.
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Maianthemum racemosum

Site: Blue Ridge Parkway, Haywood County, NC Date: 2010-July-12Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
False Solomon's Seal berries are red-splotched when they start ripening. By fall they will be entirely red.
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Maianthemum racemosum

Site: Ponderosa State Park, Valley County, ID Date: 2012-May-31Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
There are two subspecies of this plant, a western subspecies and and eastern subspecies, with range overlap in the great plains. Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum is the eastern; Maianthemum racemosum ssp. amplexicaule the western subspecies. As indicated by the subspecies name, the western one has sessile, nearly clasping leaves, while the leaves of the eastern species are on short petioles.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Maianthemum racemosum

Site: The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2008-April-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D40
1/125f/5.6 ISO220
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G II ED
55mm (82 equiv) Flash: Yes
The differences between False Solomon's Seal and true Solomon's Seal can be seen in this photograph.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Maianthemum racemosum

Site: Big Frog Trail, Polk County, TN Date: 2004-May-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Sony Cybershot
1/30f/3.8 ISO160
6.4mm
The stem of Maianthemum racemosum usually has a zig-zag appearance near the end.

This is subspecies racemosum.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Maianthemum racemosum

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer