Maianthemum stellatum

starry false lily of the valley


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants) Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Liliopsida (monocotyledons). Subclass - Liliidae. Order - Liliales. Family - Liliaceae (lily). Genus - Maianthemum F.H. Wigg. (mayflower). Species - Maianthemum stellatum (L.) Link (starry false lily of the valley).

Ecology: Also known as little false Solomon's-seal (Smilacina stellata). Little false Solomon's-seal is a rhizomatous perennial forb approximately 20-60 cm tall. The stem is erect and the leaves are alternate. It has 5 to 10 white flowers in a terminal raceme. The fruits are globose. The roots of little false Solomon's-seal are dimorphic. A large root that grows straight downward occurs at the junction between some segments; numerous small roots emanate in all directions from the rhizome. Little false Solomon's-seal is generally a seral herb species. On dune sites near Lake Michigan, it has remained dominant for more than a 1,000 years. It is eventually replaced by false Solomon's-seal on the oldest dunes. The Nuxalk Indians of British Columbia collected the ripe berries from little false Solomon's-seal from July to August for food.


Starry false solomon’s-seal is a dainty perennial with a single, unbranched, arching stem, bearing a small, terminal cluster of white, star-shaped flowers. Dark-green, oval leaves line the 8-10 in. stem. Dark berries follow the flowers.


Fire effects: Fire will consume all aboveground parts of little false Solomon's-seal. Little false Solomon's-seal is moderately resistant to fire-kill. It may, however, be killed by fire that removes the duff layer and heats the upper mineral layer. Its fire adaptation strategy is via sprouting from surviving rhizomes located in mineral soil.


Vegetative Reproduction - Little false Solomon's-seal regenerates primarily through rhizomes. Its rhizomes grow rapidly and develop into long, complex systems. Rhizome plasticity after burial is moderate. Following burial by volcanic tephra from Mount St. Helens, little false Solomon's-seal was observed to sprout from rhizomes upward through the ash. The roots of starry Solomon's-seal steadily die-off so that the oldest rhizome segments have few roots remaining.

Species Distribution


USDA Plant Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database, 4 February 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds.  1993+.  Flora of North America North of Mexico.  19+ vols.  New York and Oxford.

Intermountain Herbarium
Consortium of Intermountain Herbaria. 2016. Accessed on February 04.

Burke Museum Plant Image Collection
The plant image collection at the Burke Museum, University of Washington.

Jepson Manual
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. $131.95, hardcover; 1600 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0520253124.