Friday, June 1, 2012

Native Plant of the Week: False Solomon's Seal ~ Maianthemum racemosum

False Solomon's Seal ~ Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina racemosa)


False Solomon's Seal is a wonderful woodland perennial native. Commonly occurring in the woodlands here in central Minnesota, it has large rhizomes that give rise to nice clusters.

It has just finished flowering this year, the large stalkless leaves alternate up the zigzagging stem with the flower cluster terminating at the top.

The branched cluster is comprised of tiny, 6 parted white flowers giving it a plume-like appearance.

Tiny sweat bees (Lasioglossum species) are attracted to the flower's nectar and get covered with pollen as they visit.

The blue-gray Spring Azure butterflies also seek out nectar from the flowers as they flutter clumsily through the woodland understory.

While looking at some tiny tumbling flower beetles, I spotted this moth that was also nectaring. It's Neoheliodines cliffordi (no common name), whose leaf-skeletonizing larva occur on wild four o'clock, Mirabilis nyctaginea. (www.microleps.org)

Beetles also love the flowers, I've seen at least 4 different types. I have yet to identify this long-horned ant-like beetle.

False Solomon's Seal is a very adaptable native for the home landscape. It can tolerate quite a bit of sun as well as shady locations. It does really well in our dry, sandy soils but also performs well in loamy, mesic locations.

It reaches heights of 24-30" and has a wonderful arching habit. It looks really nice in combination with lower growing Wild Ginger. Plant amongst earlier flowering natives such as Bloodroot or Hepatica for a long lasting display of spring color.

Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
2011. 
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.
False Solomon's Seal is native to western and eastern North America. See map for range.