five-one-oh

Living local, urban design, sustainability, landscape architecture, and places in the East Bay. Design that works where it is.

Starry False Solomon’s Seal

One of the best things about a woodland garden is the way shadows, green tones, and soft duff evoke the presence of enchanted creatures just beyond our vision. No plant in our garden supports this dreamlike quality more than Starry False Solomon’s Seal.

Each spring we’re charmed by the emergence of hundreds of tiny green sprouts. The unbranched stems quickly rise to about 12-18 inches tall and start to sparkle with white, star-shaped flowers. As the season progresses the dainty flowers are replaced with green, watermelon striped berries turning to brilliant red and eventually to black. Whether at home or hiking in our local regional parks, we’re always captivated to see its gently arching form spilling down a hillside or brightening a shady hollow.

We were lucky to learn about this California native perennial, Smilacina stellata, at a Tilden Regional Park Botanic Garden plant sale. It’s been spreading by underground roots through the shady parts of our yard for years and continues delight us from early spring until the end of summer when it dies back to the ground.  Irrigated about once a week in the dry season, Starry False Solomon Seal enjoys growing with Yerba Buena, Tellima, Leopard Lilies, and native ferns.

Starry False Solomon Seal would make a good addition to any shady woodland garden in the five-one-oh. Once they take hold, you may even catch a sidelong glimpse of a fairy hiding in their midst.

Sources:
Keator, Glenn; Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California
Las Pilitas Nursery: Smilacina stellata, False Solomon Seal

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