This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Similar in structure, but differing considerably in habit from the above genus. Instead of the leafless flower-scape and radical leaves, we have here a leafy stem and axillary flowers. Rootstock creeping. Leaves alternate, opposite or whorled. Flowers solitary or racemose, pendulous, white green or purplish, destitute of bracts. Perianth tubular or sub-campanulate. Stamens on the middle of the tube, included. Fruit a 2- to 4-seeded berry. The name is from many, and a knee, in allusion to the many joints or nodes. Natives of the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The three below enumerated are all found in Britain, and flower from May to July.
1. P. multiflorum. Solomon's Seal. - Stem 2 or 3 feet high, terete. Leaves alternate, 3 to 5 inches long, with very short petioles, oblong, clasping the stem. Peduncles 2- to 5-flowered. Perianth about 8 lines long, constricted in the middle, greenish white. Filaments pubescent. Berry bluish-black. A very pretty border plant.
2. P. verticillatum. - Stem 2 or 3 feet high, angular. Leaves whbrled, sessile, lanceolate. Flowers rather smaller than in the preceding, greenish. Perianth constricted in the middle. Peduncles 1- to 3-flowered. Berry red.
3. P. officinale. - Stem about a foot high, angular. Leaves alternate, oblong, semi-amplexicaul. Perianth constricted at the base; filaments glabrous. Berry dark violet.
Maionthemum bifolium, syn. Smilacina bifolia, is a diminutive allied plant with a bifoliate stem and small racemose flowers. It is a scarce plant in Yorkshire, etc., in England, but widely distributed in the north temperate zone.