Maianthemum stellatum (Starry False Solomon's Seal)

Plant Info
Also known as: Starry Solomon's Plume, Starry False Lily-of-the-Valley
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist meadows, edges of woods, shorelines
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:12 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Spike-like raceme 1 to 4 inches long of up to 20 stalked white flowers. Each flower is about 3/8 inch across, has 6 tepals (petals) and 6 stamens with pale yellow or cream colored tips.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2 inches across, generally elliptical tapering to a point at the tip, toothless, finely hairy on the underside, with prominent parallel veins and often folded some lengthwise. The base of the leaf clasps the stem. The stem slightly zig-zags between the alternately attached leaves and may be hairless or finely hairy. The plant does not grow upright, but tilts to one side and arcs a bit at the top.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Each flower is replaced by a berry, about ¼ inch in diameter. Berries are initially green with purple stripes and ripen to solid reddish-purple.


Just looking at the leaves, Smooth Solomon's Seal, False Solomon's Seal, and Starry False Solomon's Seal are all similar. False Solomon's Seal prefers shadier habitats, has more, smaller flowers, plus its leaves do not clasp the stem and are wider than Starry False Solomon's Seal. Smooth Solomon's Seal has racemes of flowers on the underside of the arcing stem, rather than a cluster at the end. Starry False Solomon's Seal often goes by Latin name Smilacina stellata but the accepted name in Minnesota is Maianthemum stellatum. Formerly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, all Maianthemum species have been reassigned to Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and at Vermillion Falls, Dakota County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: randy b.
on: 2008-06-18 22:11:35

I didnt know what this was but about 14 years ago I noticed the berries in the woods at Highland Park and collected a few and planted them on my boulevard. They reddish berries were very showy. They've been growing in front of my house ever since. Nice plant.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2008-06-20 18:16:00

Yes it is a nice plant, but I do want to mention that you shouldn't collect seeds, berries or flowers in the parks without permission. You may be fined if you're caught.

Posted by: Scott P
on: 2009-06-06 19:39:09

I've got this in my woods near cormorant in Becker County. See the photo here Click on the 'map this' button above the photo to see the exact location

Posted by: PD Wythe - Meeker County
on: 2009-12-24 21:42:43

I have these growing in my woods along with the more common False Solomon Seal. I prefer these as the berries look like little cat's eyes, with a strip down the middle.

Posted by: Meredith - Shoreview
on: 2010-05-06 18:06:08

I found a patch of these at the marsh behind my house, There are some just adjacent to my property as well. Glad to find out they are native and not invasive.

Posted by: Dorothy - St, Francis
on: 2013-06-24 22:04:31

We were cleaning out the invasive vines and found a patch of these flowers and thought they were pretty. glad to know they are keepers.

Posted by: Geri - Mapleton, MN
on: 2014-05-19 13:09:08

We have a large patch of these in our grove. I have transplanted some to one of our flower beds in the shade and they are performing well for a second season plant. These should be used in native gardens more often but should not be transplanted from native habitat. There are a few native plant nurseries who have them for sale.

Posted by: Mathew - Edina
on: 2016-05-06 20:47:39

Found in Bredesen Park along the walking path.

Posted by: Kathy & Doug Wood - Stearns county north of Sartell in our woods along the Zmisd
on: 2020-02-13 02:44:23

We have a nice patch of these growing just outside our log cabin. So pretty!

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