Star-flowered Solomon's Seal - Photos Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Star-flowered Solomon's Seal - Photos Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Star-flowered Solomon's Seal - Photos Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Star-flowered Solomon's Seal - Photos Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image 
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White Flowers ( Flowers in Terminal Clusters )
Lily Family (Liliaceae)

Star-flowered Solomon's Seal
Maianthemum stellatum

Season: May to July
Habitat:
 Moist areas from the Montane to the Subalpine
Height:
 20-40 cm

Description: Alternatively known as Smilacina stellata, this very common wildflower can be quickly identified by its distinctive lily-style leaves, and its cluster of star-like, six petaled white flowers. The claspng leaves are alternate, with a smooth margin. The flowers are replaced by green berries that darken to a brownish-purple as they age.

Flower: The flowers occur on the top of the plant in a cluster of 6-10 flowers, with each individual flower occuring at the end of a small stem (raceme). The flower has six petals (tepals) that spread out to resemble a star (giving the plant its common name). There are also six stamens with bright yellow anthers.

Leaf: The alternately arranged, clasping leaves immediately identify this plant as a member of the lily family. The leaves may fold slightly around the stem to leave them somewhat folded, or they may lye flat.The veins run parallel to the smooth leaf margin.

Fruit/Seed: The plant produces a distinct cluster of round berries, 7-10 mm in diametre. They berries are greenish-yellow at first, but gradually the colour darkens to reddish black or dark blue. They usually display several (3 or 6) dark purple stripes.

Similar Species: False Solomon's seal (M. racemosum) has similar lily-like leaves, but usually is much larger with a more prominent cluster of white flowers. The berries also lack the striping that is visible on those of the star-flowered Solomon's seal. Three-leaved false Solomon's seal (M. trifolium) is a less common plant with only three leaves and a more sparse flower head (raceme). Each plant has 2 to 12 individual flowers borne at the end of longer stalks.

Range: This plant is common across Canada (including the territories), and extends south as far as California, New Mexico and Tennessee.

Notes: Many Native Canadian groups used the berries in large quantities as a food source. They are not very tasty though and can cause diarhea in large quantities. The leaves have also been used as a food source. In addition, the Thompson Indians used a decoction made from the leaves as a treatment for rheumatism.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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