Perennial herbs with creeping, bulbous or clustered rootstock, and either radical leaves and peduncles, or annual or biennial, leafy flowering-stems. Flowers usually hermaphrodite. Perianth usually 6-lobed. Stamens 6, hypogynous, or attached to the perianth-lobes. Styles 1 or 3, rarely O. Fruit usually a 3-celled capsule or berry.

A large family of nearly 2000 species, widely spread over many regions of the globe.

Streptopus Rich. Streptopus Amplexifolius Dc

Rootstock oblique, knotted with abundant fibres. Stem erect, simple or branched, zigzag, glabrous like the whole plant. Leaves cordate-lanceolate, entire, acuminate, amplexicaul, sea-green on under side. Flower-stalks usually solitary, 1-flowered, bent downwards nearly at a right angle. Flowers whitish. Berries globular or ellipsoidal, watery, scarlet.

Alpine and sub-alpine woods up to 6500 feet; local. June, July.


Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Jura, Vosges, Cevennes, Pyrenees, Corsica; Central Europe, Asia, North America.

Convallaria L. Convallaria Majalis L. Lily Of The Valley

Stem leafless except for a pair of large, elliptical, radical leaves. Flowers white, nearly orbicular, in a unilateral raceme, sweet-scented. Fruit a red berry.

Woods, sometimes in quantities, ascending occasionally to Alpine thickets at over 5000 feet. May, June.


Europe, except Mediterranean, Western and Northern Asia. British.

Polygonatum Tourn. Solomon's Seal

Flowers axillary and solitary or in racemes, pendulous, usually greenish white. Sepals and petals united below. Stem leafy, springing from a thick rhizome. Leaves broad (except in one or two species), usually alternate. Fruit a berry.

Polygonatum Multifiorum All

Stem 2-3 feet high. Peduncles axillary, bearing 2-5 greenish white and rather small flowers. Filaments of the stamens hairy. Leaves oval or oblong. Berry blue-black.

Woods; frequent. May, June.


Europe, except Mediterranean, Western and Northern Asia, Canada, British.

Polygonatum Officinale All

Stem 8-18 inches high, angular, peduncles usually bearing 1-2 flowers, which are larger than the last and scented. Leaves oval or elliptic. Filaments glabrous. Berry blue-black.

Woods and shady, rocky places, especially on limestone; common. April to June.


Europe, Western and Northern Asia, Japan. England.

Polygonatum Verticillatum All

Rootstock creeping, knotted, horizontal. Stem angular, 1-3 feet high, bearing whorls of 3-7 leaves, which are lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, acuminate, entire, sessile, glabrous. Flowers axillary, pendent, in whorls of about 6, 1-3 on each flower-stalk, greenish white, tubular. Berries globular, violet, blue-black later.

Margins of woods, clearings, and shady, rocky places in the Alps and sub-Alps up to 6500 feet. May, June.


Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Vosges, Jura, Ardennes, Cevennes, Pyrenees, Central and Northern Europe, Central and Western Asia. Rare in Britain.