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Entries in False Solomon's Seal (1)

Wednesday
Jan262011

Wildflower Wednesday ~ False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum Racemosum)

Nature 365 - Day 128

This week's flower is False Solomon's Seal.  We took this photo while walking the trail at McRae Provincial Park where spring conditions are perfectly moist, enabling this beauty of a wildflower to grow.

  • a woodland herbaceous perennial plant that flowers from May to July.
  • is native to North America, excluding the Arctic.   
  • is the only member of the Lily family to have elongated clusters of small white flowers.
  • the arching stems end with a pyramidal cluster of white flowers (each 1/8" long) that have 3 petals, 3 petal-like sepals, and 6 stamen(*) each.
  • the leaves, which have hairy undersides, are 3-6" long, eliptical, and are placed alternately from the stem.
  • they grow 1-3 feet in height, thriving in rich woods and moist clearings.
  • deer and rabbits love to eat it!! :)
  • is known to successfully survive forest fires and actually grow quickly after the fire has been put out.
  • in late summer the plant forms a cluster of fruit where the flowers had previously been.  The fruit starts out green and ultimately turns to red.  This fruit is occasionally called scurvy berries, in reference to them being eaten to ward of the condition.
  • is also known as Solomon's Plume, False or Wild Spikenard, Golden Seal, Job's Tears and Zigzag.
  • is said to have been used by early settlers as a treatment for headaches and sore throats.  
  • if the young shoots are stripped of their leaves, they can be simmered in water and eaten.  They are said to taste like asparagus.  Once the plant flowers, however, it becomes quite bitter and not very tasty. 
  • caution is to be exercised when wanting to eat this plant as it is very similar in appearance to the Indian Hellebore which is a highly toxic member of the Lily family.
  • folklore suggests the name Solomon's Seal originates from the markings found on the rootstalks that resemble both a seal and hebrew characters.  There is a story of Solomon that suggests he was knowledgeable in the realm of plants and the virtues of roots and so he set his seal upon them in testimony of their value to man as a medicinal root. (Botanical.com)

*Stamen: refers to the stalks which grow out from the centre of a flower.  The stamen produce pollen which is then held at the tips by what is called anthers.