Formerly called Smilacina racemosa, this is one of the best woodland native plants for the shade garden; unfortunately highly underused. I hope people who, obviously don’t know how it looks, will stop calling it ‘dainty’ because it grows with zig-zag, arching stems up to 80 cm tall! It has alternate leaves, and as the name implies, when not in flower, it resembles a Solomon’s Seal. White, frothy, fragrant flowers in rich, pyramidal shaped panicles will top the stems from May to June. Fruits are purple dotted red berries (some say yellow too but I’ve never seen them), translucent when ripe, which is a very attractive feature in the fall. And to clarify another false statement ‘floating’ over the net, it produces abundant seeds in most years.
Beautiful as an individual specimen or in large groups; it tolerates drought but can also be grown in shady moist areas near ponds or streams.
Other uses: the young shoots are edible while still tender (I never tried them) and the roots were employed in various ways by the Native American tribes.
Germination: seeds kept moist after collecting, room temperature for about 6-8 weeks and then cold/moist, will start to germinate in the spring with rising temperatures (April-May). In the first season, they will only develop a rhizome/roots and the first leaves will start growing in the second year. Sown outdoors in late fall, it will undergo these cycles naturally.