by Jane Scully
False Solomon's Seal
This graceful flower is blooming now and will continue into July. At the end of an arching, zigzag stem with alternating, parallel-veined leaves bursts forth a large plume of many small white flowers. These feathery, cream-white masses of flowers mark the plant's difference from what is known as true Solomon's Seal, on which several bell-shaped flowers that hang from where the leaves connect to the stem.
The plumes of the 1 to 3 foot high plants shine brightly against the dark green leaves and clearings on rocky slopes and the forest floor. The small flowers, about 1/8-inch wide, open individually from the stem end upwards, allowing for the longer blooming period. And feel the leaves: they are hairy beneath and along the margins.
A member of the large Lily family, False Solomon's Seal shares its history of medicinal use with Hairy and Smooth Solomon's Seal. The juice from crushed rhizomes was used to treat earache and sunburn. A tea made from the leaves served as a contraceptive. The starchy rhizomes also were used as food by Indians and early settlers; today some woodsmen eat the tender new shoots, which are said to taste like asparagus.