LILY FAMILY - Liliaceae: Wild Spikenard; False Solomon's Seal; Solomon's Zig-zag

Smilacina racemosa

Flowers--White or greenish, small, slightly fragrant, in a densely flowered terminal raceme. Perianth of 6 separate, spreading segments; 6 stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: Simple, somewhat angled, 1 to 3 ft. high, scaly below, leafy, and sometimes finely hairy above. Leaves: Alternate and seated along stem, oblong, lance-shaped, 3 to 6 in. long, finely hairy beneath. Rootstock: Thick, fleshy. Fruit: A cluster of aromatic, round, pale red speckled berries.

Preferred Habitat--Moist woods, thickets, hillsides.

Flowering Season--May-July.

Distribution--Nova Scotia to Georgia; westward to Arizona and British Columbia.

As if to offer opportunities for comparison to the confused novice, the true Solomon's Seal and the so-called false species--quite as honest a plant--usually grow near each other. Grace of line, rather than beauty of blossom, gives them both their chief charm. But the feathery plume of greenish-white blossoms that crowns the false Solomon's Seal's somewhat zig-zagged stem is very different from the small, greenish, bell-shaped flowers, usually nodding in pairs along the stem, under the leaves, from the axils of the true Solomon's Seal. Later in summer, when hungry birds wander through the woods with increased families, the Wild Spikenard offers them branching clusters of pale red speckled berries, whereas the former plant feasts them with blue-black fruit.