Polygonatum biflorum (Walt.) Ell. - Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum biflorum plant

Family - Liliaceae

Stems - To +1m tall, erect to arching, glabrous, glaucous, herbaceous, rhizomatous, simple, single from base.

Polygonatum biflorum stem

Leaves - Alternate, sessile, glabrous, somewhat glaucous below, entire, acute, to +18cm long, +7cm wide.

Inflorescence - Pedunculate drooping axillary clusters of 1-5 flowers. Peduncle to +3cm long, glabrous. Pedicels to 8mm long, glabrous, often with small linear bracts to about 1.1mm long.

Polygonatum biflorum inflorescence

Flowers - Whitish-green. Tepals 6, united except at apex, United portion to +/-1.5cm long, glabrous. Free portion of tepals 4mm long, acute, spreading to erect. Stamens 6, adnate about halfway up corolla tube, opposite tepals, included. Filaments to 4mm long, glabrous. Anthers yellow, 4.5mm long, introrse. Ovary superior, 5mm long, ellipsoid, 3-locular. Placentation axile. Style glabrous, 1.1cm long, pale greenish-white. Berries to +1.2cm long (diameter), deep blue, glabrous.

Polygonatum biflorum flowers

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Moist, rich woods, roadside ditches, edges of streams and ponds.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - You may find this plant being called P. canaliculatum, which was once thought to be a separate species, but the two are synonymous. This plant is common throughout Missouri.
When not in flower, this plant can be mistaken for another member of the Liliaceae, Smilacina. Smilacina in flower has a terminal raceme and is easy to ID. When not in flower, though, it is easy to mistake the two genera.

Photographs taken in Linville, NC., 5-11-03.


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