Plants terrestrial, to 12.5 cm. Rhizomes sympodial, cylindrical, units 30-40 cm × 8-14 mm, sometimes multiplied, roots scattered. Stems erect or arching, 7.5-12.5 dm × 7-9 mm. Leaves 7-12, sessile and clasping, or petiolate; blade elliptic to ovate, 9-17 × 5-8 cm; base rounded or tapered; apex acute or caudate. Inflorescences paniculate, 70-250-flowered, branches well developed, pyramidal. Flowers 3-merous; tepals inconspicuous, 0.5-1 × 0.5 mm; filaments 1 × 0.5 mm; anthers 0.5-1 mm; ovary globose, 1 mm wide; style 0.1-0.3 mm; stigma obscure; pedicel 0.5-1 × 0.5 mm. Berries green with copper spots when young, maturing to deep translucent red, globose or 3-lobed, 4-6 mm wide. Seeds 1-4, globose, 2.5-4 mm. 2n = 36, 72, 144. Maianthemum racemosum is sometimes cultivated. It was described as apomictic (A. L. Gorham 1953) but is much in need of cytogeographic and reproductive biological studies.
Perennial herb with a long, creeping rhizome flowering stem 40 cm - 0.8 m long Leaves: alternate, seven to twelve, two-ranked, spreading horizontally, stalked, or stalkless and clasping, 9 - 17 cm long, 5 - 8 cm wide, elliptic to egg-shaped with a rounded or tapering base and a pointed or tail-like tip, parallel-veined, finely hairy beneath. Inflorescence: a terminal, pyramid-shaped cluster (panicle) of 70 to 250 flowers on an upright or arching stem. Flowers: white, 2 - 5 mm wide, with six distinct, tiny, spreading tepals. Stamens six. Fruit: a one- to four-seeded spherical (or three-lobed) berry, 4 - 6 mm wide, from green to deep translucent red, dotted with purple.
Similar species: Plants in the genus Maianthemum (false Solomon's seal) are similar to those in the genus Polygonatum (true Solomon's seal) but differ in where the flowers grow. True Solomon's seal has flowers that grow and hang along the stem, while the flowers of false Solomon's seal grow in clusters at the end of the stem. Maianthemum racemosum differs from other Chicago Region Maianthemum by having flowers that grow in a branched cluster called a panicle.
Flowering: mid-April to late June
Habitat and ecology: Common in woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: Sometimes cultivated.
Etymology: Maianthemum comes from the Greek words maios, meaning May, and anthemon, meaning blossom. Racemosum means "having a raceme (a type of flower cluster)."
Stem usually curved-ascending, 4-8 dm, finely hairy; lvs spreading horizontally in 2 ranks, elliptic, 7-15 נ2-7 cm, obtuse or rounded at base, short-acuminate, finely hairy beneath; panicle pedunculate or rarely sessile, 3-15 cm; fls very numerous, short-pediceled, 2-5 mm wide; fr red, dotted with purple; 2n=36, 72, 144. Rich woods; N.S. to B.C., s. to Ga. and Ariz. May, June. (Maianthemum r.; Vagnera r.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
FNA 2003, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Welsh et al. 1993
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Stems erect, emerging from fleshy rhizomes. Leaves: Sessile and clasping, the blades are elliptic to ovate or oblong-lanceolate, usually 7-12, 9-20 cm long by 5-8 cm wide, with a rounded base, pubescent below, margins minutely ciliate, apex acute. Flowers: Paniculate raceme with 7-250 flowers, the branches well developed and pyramidal, the flowers 3-merous, with tepals about 2 mm long, exceeded by stamens. Fruits: Globose red berries when mature, green with copper spots when young, 4-6 mm wide. Ecology: Found in shaded woodlands to damp woods from 6,500-10,000 ft (1981-3048 m), flowers May-July Distribution: Widespread north throughout the intermountain west and plains to Canada and south into northern Mexico. Notes: Ours is subsp. amplexicaule and is told apart by the more erect than arching stem and the generally sessile leaves. Ethnobotany: The berries were eaten, and a poultice was used to help heal the umbilical cord of newborns. The other subspecies has many uses. Etymology: Maianthemum is from Greek for May flower, while racemosum means with flowers in racemes. Synonyms: Covallaria racemosa, Smilacina racemosa, Unifolium racemosum Editor: SBuckley, 2011