What Happens to Solomon’s Plume Tops

by Carl Strang

Smilacina racemosa, the feathery false Solomon’s seal or feathery Solomon’s plume, is a woodland perennial herb that vanishes before we can seek it in the winter botany season. So, what becomes of its tops? This is a plant that encloses its seeds in berries, junk food for naïve first-time migrant birds (the berries are an attractive red color, but are lacking in nutritive value: White and Stiles 1985, Ecology 66:303-307). Since most of these migrants pass through in September, the tops remain upright at least that late.

A Solomon’s plume plant with berries on display

A Solomon’s plume plant with berries on display

Very quickly, though, senescence begins.

The berries are gone, and the leaves rapidly are browning.

The berries are gone, and the leaves rapidly are browning.

By late autumn the leaves will be gone, and the stalks collapsed and buried in the new load of leaf litter. This is a perennial, and the roots will grow a new top next year.

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