Wildflower Wednesday: Starry Solomon’s Plume
Starry Solomon’s Plume is more properly known as Starry False Solomon’s Seal, but the people who write plant catalogues don’t like common names with “false”, it must drive down sales, so they came up with something with a more positive ring. I think they did right, because the other name implies that the plant is trying to pass itself off as Solomon’s Seal, and we really have no reason to suspect it of such duplicity.
The botanical name is Maianthemum stellatum, but until recently was Smilacina stellata (the taxonomists strike again – grrr.)
Like Solomon’s Seal, Starry Solomon’s Plume has a single stem lined with glossy, lance shaped leaves. In spring, there is a cluster of small, star-shaped white flowers at the end of the roughly one foot stems, followed by interesting striped berries in fall. For me the foliage and berries are the most attractive features. Right now is when the flowering is at its peak.
This is a tough plant that will tolerate dry shade. It spreads by rhizomes, but not so thickly that you could really consider it a groundcover. Taller plants can coexist with Starry Solomon’s Plume, but shorter plants like Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) will need the gardener’s protection.
Starry Solomon’s Plume is native to most of the USA and Canada. Grizzly bears and ruffed grouse are said to eat the berries, but I can’t verify this because there are no bears or grouse in my neighborhood, ruffed or otherwise. I like to think that an adventurous robin or two will give the berries a try, or maybe a bluejay, but I don’t know.
Wildflower Wednesday is hosted every month by Gail at Clay and Limestone.