Smilicina, a diminutive of Smilax. Vagnera, in honor of Wagner.
Perennial herb of moist woods and thickets. Nova Scotia to Georgia and westward to Missouri and British America. Abundant in northern Ohio. April, May.
Thick, fleshy, creeping.
One to three feet high, smooth, leafy, usually curving, somewhat angled.
Many on the stem, alternate, oblong-lanceolate or oval, pointed, strongly ribbed; margins entire, hairy.
Small, white, fragrant, borne in a terminal, panicled raceme.
Six-parted, spreading; segments oblong.
Six, inserted at the base of the perianth divisions; filaments slender; anthers introrse.
One; ovary three-celled; stigma three-grooved.
A bunch of pale-red berries, specked with purple, abundant in the early autumn, aromatic in taste.
Pollinated by bees, flies, and beetles.
The leafy stems of Smilicina are found standing in groups and bunches at the edge of the open wood in early May, some in bloom and all prepared to bloom. The stems rise from one to three feet, bearing many bright-green, shining, parallel-veined leaves arranged alternately and at the summit appears a loose pyramidal spike of small white flowers, not unlike the inflorescence of Spirea Japonica. Though the flower-cluster is attractive and beautiful, the graceful poise and curve of the leafy stem constitute the chief charm of the plant. Each tiny flower of the cluster has six white sepals, six stamens, and a pistil. In midsummer a cluster of speckled, pale-red, aromatic berries crowns the stem and invites the birds.
The two common names, False Solomon's-Seal and Wild Spikenard, which the plant has acquired have little significance and no beauty. Furthermore, there is an objection to characterizing anything which is as true and beautiful as this plant as false. Smilicina has no especial significance; the name is a diminutive of Smilax, but it is pleasant to the ear and comes easily on the tongue, and there seems no reason why it may not be accepted as the common name.
Three-leaved Solomon's-Seal, Vagnera trifolia, rises from a slender rootstock a stem six to sixteen inches high, bearing generally three oblong, parallel-veined leaves, sessile, and sheathing at base. Flowers borne in a short raceme with recurved, six-parted perianth, six stamens, one ovary and style. Berries dark red. Found in wet, boggy woods from Maine to Pennsylvania, west to Michigan.