Description & Overview

Starry False Solomon’s Seal is a Wisconsin native perennial that thrives in sandy and fertile soils. Green shoots emerge from the ground in mid-Spring and are soon topped with a small plume of white, star-like flowers. The flowers are followed by berries with green and maroon striping, maturing to a deep jewel red. It might be the finest individual berry to watch ripen, surpassed only by Witherod Viburnum.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 2

Mature Height: 8-24 inches

Mature Spread: 10-24 inches

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Arching, spreading, naturalizes

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Well - drained, dry - moist

Flower: White, 6 - parted, 1/3" wide, star - like, inflorescence about 2" long

Bloom Period: May – June

Foliage: Green, alternate, clasping up to 6" long

Fall Color: Yellow

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Green/dark purple striped berry that ripens to deep red

Suggested Uses

Starry False Solomon’s Seal does best in partly shaded, sandy, loamy soils throughout most of Wisconsin, with the exception of a few north-central counties. It is typically found in prairies, woods, sand hills, and even beaches. It will tolerate full sun in pure sand, but the foliage will look pretty beat up by midsummer if situated in such an area. In part-shade (preferred), the blueish-green foliage stays fresh looking all the way to the end of summer and into fall.

Starry False Solomon’s Seal is the best Solomon’s Seal to use as a groundcover. An excellent native substitute for the exotic, aggressive plants often used (Vinca, Pachysandra, and Ajuga), spreading about 1-2 feet per year. Though not as short as Canada Mayflower, Starry False Solomon’s Seal has a thick, spreading presence in part shade situations. Its decorative, delightful berries are evenly distributed across the mini-canopy creating a fairy-like world just above ground level.

Starry False Solomon’s Seal performs best in part shade and would be terrific in a shade or woodland garden. It is a perfect ground cover for an understory planting, such as an area with many trees and dappled light.

Did you remove garlic mustard weed, goutweed, or any other unwanted, weedy groundcover from an area? Starry False Solomon’s Seal would make a great fill-in option. Plant it and allow it to spread!

Starry False Solomon's Seal is a Wisconsin native perennial that thrives in sandy and fertile soils. Green shoots emerge from the ground in mid-Spring…

Wildlife Value

The small white flowers are primarily pollinated by Halictid bees, flower flies, and Tachinid flies.

The berries are eaten by Veeries, Ruffed Grouse, Thrushes, American Robins, and White-footed mice.

The foliage is sometimes consumed by deer.

Maintenance Tips

Plants will recede into the ground by mid-Fall. Any remaining foliage can be left through winter and removed in Spring.

No fertilization is needed.

Starry False Solomon's Seal is a Wisconsin native perennial that thrives in sandy and fertile soils. Green shoots emerge from the ground in mid-Spring…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: No
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

No serious problems or pests.

Leaf Lore

The genus name Maianthemum is a compound word from two Greek words: Maios for “May” and anthos for “flower”-a note to its blooming period. The specific epithet stellatum means “with flowers in racemes.”

False Starry Solomon’s Seal is similar looking to False Solomon’s Seal. False Solomon’s Seal prefers shadier habitats, has more numerous and smaller flowers and the leaves do not clasp the stem as the do on Starry False Solomon’s Seal.

This plant has been used in a variety of ways by a number of Indigenous peoples. Historically, Starry False Solomon’s Seal was used as an appetite stimulant, for detoxification, earaches, cough syrups, eye inflammations, and interestingly, to stupefy fish. The root was put into water, which stunned the fish, making them easier to collect. It has also been used as a ceremonial emetic, a regulatory aid for women, and as a wash in cases of blood poisoning.

The ripe fruit is edible, but is a laxative in large quantities, though cooked berries do not have this effect.

Companion Plants

Other plants that would do well in a mixed ground layer and sometimes occur naturally alongside Starry False Solomon’s Seal include Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Canada Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Meadow Anemone (Anemone canadensis), Hairy Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis), Big-leaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), and Plains Oval Sedge (Carex brevior).

Combine with American Filbert (Corylus americana), Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), Large-flowered Bellflower (Uvularia grandiflora), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), and Wild Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis).

Starry False Solomon's Seal is a Wisconsin native perennial that thrives in sandy and fertile soils. Green shoots emerge from the ground in mid-Spring…
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Written by Beth DeLain