Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant is unbranched and up to 2½' tall. The central stem is ascending, rather than stiffly erect. It is green to light green, slightly hairy, and sometimes zigzags between the alternate leaves. These leaves are up to 6" long and 3" across. They are broadly ovate, smooth along the margins, and usually glabrous on the upper surface. Their venation is parallel, while at the base they are mostly sessile against the stem. The central stem terminates in a rather flat panicle of 20-80 white flowers. This panicle is about 4" long and 2" across; its whitish green stalks are softly hairy. Each flower is about 1/6" across, consisting of 6 tepals, 6 stamens, and a central pistil with a short stout style. These floral parts are white, except for the anthers of the stamens, which are cream or pale yellow. The filaments of the stamens are narrowly triangular, while the tepals are oblong-linear. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a few-seeded berry. Individual berries are about ¼" across and globular; they become bright red, or red and purple-striped at maturity. The root system consists of stout rhizomes with secondary fibrous roots. This plant sometimes forms loose vegetative colonies.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

False Solomon's Seal is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include mesic to dry deciduous woodlands, rocky wooded slopes, bluffs, and Black Oak foredunes near Lake Michigan. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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USA: AL , AK , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC (NPIN, 2009)

Canada: BC , MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC (NPIN, 2009)

Native Distribution: N.S. to AK, s. in the east to GA & TX, in the west through mts. to AZ & s. CA (NPIN, 2009)

USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N) (NPIN, 2009)

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Physical Description

Morphology

Overall the plant is minutely downy. (Peattie, 1930) This plant is known for its showy flowers and fruit. (Wells et al, 1999)

Flowers are white and fragrant. They are born on short pedicels in a terminal racemose panicle. Stamens exceed the small perianth. (Peattie, 1930) The plant bears a terminal, branched, cone-shaped cluster (panicle) of tiny creamy white flowers. (Wells et al, 1999) Flowers are white, 6-parted, and starry. The inflorescence is many-flowered, large, branched, terminal, and pyramid-shaped. (UW, 2009) The feathery, creamy-white masses of flowers are borne at the end of the stem. (NPIN, 2009)

Fruit Berries are globular and 1-2 seeded. (Peattie, 1930) The berry begins pink and turns red. (Wells et al, 1999) A whitish berry is produced with brown-to-ruby-red speckles. (Hultman, 1978) Fruit is a green and purple-dotted, rounded berry that ripens to red. (UW, 2009)

Leaves are alternate nerved. They are numerous, oblong or oval-lanceolate, ciliate, abruptly petioled, and taperpointed. (Peattie, 1930) Each stem may have 12-25 or more oval-shaped leaves arranged along the stem in ranks. (Wells et al, 1999) Leaves are broad and glossy. (Hultman, 1978) Leaves are alternate, elliptical with pointed tip, and stalkless but not clasping. (UW, 2009) The apex of the third leaf below the inflorescence is caudate. (FNA, 2003)

Stems The rootstocks are stout and fleshy. Stems are simple. (Peattie, 1930) Stems are unbranched and hairy, arching gracefully. (Wells et al, 1999) Each branched rhizome bears one to several stems. Rhizomes exhibit circular stem scars. (NPIN, 2009)

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Size

Plant is 40-100 cm tall. (Peattie, 1930) The plant may be 16-36" tall. (Wells et al, 1999)

Flowers the segments are 2mm long. (Peattie, 1930) The flower is 1/8" wide. The inflorescence is 4". (UW, 2009) Flowers are in 1-4" clusters. (NPIN, 2009)

Leaves 2.5-6" long. (Hultman, 1978)

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Look Alikes

Leaf arrangement is very similar to true Solomon's Seal. (Hultman, 1978) The feathery, creamy-white masses of flowers borne at the end of the stem distinguish this species from the true Solomons seals (Polygonatum spp.), which have pendulous, axillary, bell-like flowers. The rhizome lacks the seal-like pattern of the true Solomons seals, but exhibits circular stem scars. (NPIN, 2009)
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

False Solomon's Seal is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include mesic to dry deciduous woodlands, rocky wooded slopes, bluffs, and Black Oak foredunes near Lake Michigan. Faunal Associations
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The plant occurs in thickets and dune woods. (Peattie, 1930) Rich-soiled or sandy-soiled woodlands are preferred habitats. (Hultman, 1978) The plant inhabits woods and forests with full to partial sun, dry to moderate moisture, and in sandy, loamy, rich soil. (UW, 2009) Native habitat includes woods, clearings, and bluffs. Though it prefers moist, deciduous woods, this plant is also found, in a stunted form, growing in drier, shallower soils or open spaces. (NPIN, 2009) It occurs in deciduous woodlands, persisting along shaded roadsides and urban and suburban wooded tracts at elevations up to 800 m. (FNA, 2003)
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of False Solomon's Seal in Illinois

Smilacina racemosa (False Solomon's Seal)
(Bees collect pollen, flies & beetles feed on pollen, the butterfly explores the flowers in vain for nectar, and the plant bugs rest [rst] on the flowers; only pollen is available as a floral reward; observations are from Graenicher, Robertson, and Swengel & Swengel)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera (Rb)

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlora purus (Rb), Augochlorella striata (Gr), Halictus rubicunda (Gr), Lasioglossum albipennis (Gr), Lasioglossum imitatus (Rb), Lasioglossum macoupinensis (Rb), Lasioglossum obscurus (Rb), Lasioglossum pectoralis (Rb), Lasioglossum versatus (Rb), Lasioglossum zephyrus (Rb, Gr); Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes clematidis exp (Gr)

Flies
Stratiomyidae: Stratiomys lativentris (Gr); Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps exp (Gr); Syrphidae: Eristalis arbustorum (Gr), Hiatomyia cyanescens (Rb), Somula decora (Rb), Toxomerus geminatus (Gr); Empididae: Empis levicula (Rb); Tachinidae: Archytas analis (Gr), Phyllomya cremides (Gr), Siphona geniculata (Rb); Sarcophagidae: Sarcophaga sp. (Gr); Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris (Rb), Lucilia sericata (Gr); Muscidae: Drymeia sp. (Gr), Stomoxys calcitrans (Gr); Anthomyiidae: Phorbia sp. (Gr)

Butterflies
Lycaenidae: Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Sw)

Beetles
Cerambycidae: Brachysomida bivittata (Gr), Cyrtophanus verrucosum (Gr); Chrysomelidae: Gibbobruchus mimus (Rb); Elateridae: Agriotes oblongicollis (Gr); Meloidae: Epicauta murina (Gr); Mordellidae: Mordellistena scapularis (Rb); Pyrochroidae: Pedilus collaris (Gr), Pedilus terminalis (Rb); Scarabaeidae: Trichiotinus affinis (Rb), Trichiotinus piger (Gr), Valgus canaliculatus (Rb)

Plant Bugs
Miridae: Adelphocoris rapidus rst (Gr), Metriorrhynchomiris dislocatus rst (Gr), Poecilocapsus lineatus rst (Gr)

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Fruit are a preferred food source for birds. (Wells et al, 1999) Birds and small mammals eat this plants berries, and deer browse leaves. (NPIN, 2009)
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering occurs in June and July. (Peattie, 1930) Flowering occurs from May to July. Berries form as early as July and remain through September. (Wells et al, 1999) Flowering occurs March-June. (NPIN, 2009)
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Life Expectancy

This is a perennial. (NPIN, 2009)
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. In Arizona it is listed as Salvage restricted. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is light shade to partial sun, moist to slightly dry conditions, and a fertile loamy soil with abundant organic material (i.e., decaying leaves). Sandy and rocky soil are also tolerated.
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