Purple Twisted-Stalk (Streptopus Roseus) has, as would be judged from its name, a very angular or twisted stem. At each angle or joint, appears an ovate-lanceolate, cordately-ribbed, shining green leaf, seated on the stem; those of this species are bright green on both sides. From the axils of the terminal leaves appear small flowers on slender thread-like peduncles; these flowers are sometimes single or, again, in pairs; they have a bell-shaped base and the perianth is divided into six lanceolate, spreading dull purple sepals. The stem, which is rather sparingly bristly-hairy, reaches heights of 1 to 2½ feet. This rosy species blooms in May and June in cold moist woods from Newfoundland to Manitoba and southwards to the Gulf of Mexico.
Common Twisted-Stalk (Streptopus Amplexi-Folius) is similar but has greenish-white flowers, the six sepals of which are very strongly reflexed. The plant is somewhat larger, the smooth stem being from 2 to 3 feet in length. The leaves are light, glossy green and have a whitish bloom on the under side; they clasp the stem with their bases. The perfect flowers are probably largely fertilized by the numerous small bee-like flies that are usually found about them. In the Fall, the plants are decorated with bright red berries in place of the blossoms. Birds are fond of these berries and, by scattering the seeds contained therein far and wide, often found new colonies of Twisted-stalks. The common species is found throughout northern United States and the southern half of Canada.
Solomon's Seal. Palygonatum biflorum.
Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum Biflorum) has small greenish, bell-shaped flowers about one-half inch in length, hanging in pairs on slender peduncles from the axils of the leaves. The stem is 1 to 2 feet in height. The oblong-lanceolate leaves alternate along, and are partly seated on, the stem; deep green above and glaucus or whitish below. Very common in woods from N. B. to Ont. and southwards, flowering from April to June.
Great Solomon's Seal (P. Commutatum) is much larger, the flowers often measuring an inch in length, and from two to eight in each cluster from the axils of the leaves. The stem is stout and from 2 to 6 feet long. Pound from western N. E. to Minn, and southwards.
These plants receive their names from the thick, fleshy and knotted rootstalks. They are perennials and each year throw up new stalks; after flowering these wither away and leave pronounced scars on the roots. These scars suggested the name of Solomon's Seal and the number of them will probably accurately denote the ages of the plants. Both the large and the small species grow in the same localities. They can readily be distinguished by comparison, for commutatum is always larger in all its parts; while it may be but a foot and a half tall it will be stouter and have comparatively larger flowers than its relative. Often it assumes truly gigantic size and may tower above a tall man's head.
Viewed from above the pendant blossoms are very inconspicuous, but if we look beneath the spreading leaves a row of flowers will be seen drooping from the axils of most of the leaves, in pairs on the species biflorum, but usually more on the larger species. Again the large variety is always smooth in all its parts while biflorum is usually downy or hairy. In the Fall the flowers are replaced by pairs of round bluish black berries.
A. Green Brier.