False Solomon's seal

Shown here is False Solomon's-seal, Smilacina racemosa. This fellow has delicate alternate-leafed plants that do well in in partial-shade to shady areas, but tend to flop over if not using a tree for support. It develops pyramidal clusters of small blooms that turn into little round red berries a little smaller than BBs. This is a slow grower but hardy; my wife planted a specimen about 17 years ago in a difficult shady area and it returns every spring. It is easily confused with its namesake, Solomon's-seal, or Polygonatum biflorum, which is a member of the lily family found naturally in most counties of Illinois and featured in the Botanic Gardens Native Plant Garden, and approved for Illinois highway landscaping by the Federal Highway Administration. "Regular" Solomon's-Seal is distinguishable only by the flowers, fragile little tubes of pale color that appear for a few weeks in spring, and aren't the main attraction. This perennial does not spread much, but is considered disease-resistant and rugged.

Click here to read Gardening With Native Plants in Shady Evanston, which has more species and pictures.