Saturday, July 25, 2009

Maianthemum racemosum with unripe fruit

[Photo: Maianthemum racemosum with unripe fruit.]Maianthemum racemosum, known in English as "false Solomon's seal", "Solomon's plume", "false spikenard", "treacleberry", or "feathery false lily-of-the-valley", and in French as maïanthème à grappes or smilacine à grappes, is a perennial native to most of North America. The berries start out as tan; gradually they are covered by reddish speckles until they are solid red. In this they resemble their close relative, Maianthemum canadense, the lily-of-the-valley I recall so fondly from my childhood.

The Royal Horticultural Society awarded Maianthemum racemosum an Award of Garden Merit. It is grown in the RHS garden Harlow Carr, in the scented garden. I will have to smell its flowers next spring!

According to Plants for a Future, the fruit of Maianthemum racemosum is edible, with a "delicious bitter-sweet flavour, suggesting bitter molasses" and full of vitamins. I haven't tasted it myself (and I don't think "bitter molasses" sounds delicious either.)

I photographed this plant in High Park.

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