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 The Wild Spikenard

 By J.A Carpunky

The Wild Spikenard also goes by the names of False Solomon's Seal, and Solomon's Zig-zag. Its scientific name is Smilacina racemosa. This plant has white or greenish colored, small, slightly fragrant, densely packed flowers. It grows one to three feet tall, and has a simple, slightly angled stem which tends to be leafy and sometimes has a little hair on the upper parts. The leaves of this lily are lance-shaped and grow from three to six inches long. They have a fine hairy growth on the under side.

This wild flower also sports batches of aromatic, round berries which tend to be pale red speckled in color. It likes to grow in moist woods, thickets, or hillsides and the flowers bloom from May to July. This one likes the southern regions of the United States, from Georgia over to Arizona.

The False Solomon's Seal tends to grow close to true Solomon's Seal, so novice gardeners can confuse the two. But the feathery plume of greenish-white blossoms that crowns the false Solomon's Seal's somewhat zig-zagged stem is very different from the small, greenish, bell-shaped flowers, usually nodding in pairs along the stem, under the leaves, from the axils of the true Solomon's Seal. Later in summer, when hungry birds wander through the woods with increased families, the Wild Spikenard offers them branching clusters of pale red speckled berries, whereas the true Solomon's Seal plant gives them blue-black fruit to feast on.

More about "True" Solomon's Seal, also known as Hairy, or Twin-flowered Solomon's Seal. The scientific name for this wild flower is Polygonatum biflorum. As noted above, this plant produces whitish or yellowish green tubular bell-shaped flowers. It can put out up to four flowers at once, but usually tends to produce two at a time - thus the name "Twin-Flowered" - per penduncle. The twin-flowered solomon's seal has simple, slender, leafy stems and grows from eight inches to three feet tall. The leaves can be oval, pointed or lance-shaped and grow from two to four inches long. These have a soft, hairy texture along the veins on the underside of the leaf. It too produces berries, and these are a blue-black color. The plant tends to wilt after producing the berries.

This wild flower prefers to grow in the woods or thickets, and on shady banks. It flowers from April to June and does well in areas such as Florida and Michigan.

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