Perennial herb with a knotty, creeping rhizome 0.5 - 1 m tall Stem: upright. Leaves: alternate, short-stalked or nearly stalkless, 4 - 15 cm long, 2 - 6 cm wide, narrowly elliptic to broadly oval, parallel-veined, hairy on the smaller veins beneath. Flowers: yellowish green, 10 - 13 mm long, tubular, with six short lobes. Stamens six. Fruit: a berry, dark blue to black, 6 - 9 mm long. Inflorescences: are short clusters (racemes) of one to three flowers hanging from the leaf axils.
Similar species: The similar Polygonatum biflorum differs by having hairless leaf undersides.
Flowering: mid-April to late June
Habitat and ecology: Frequent in moist woods and thickets.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: When the leafstalk is broken away from the rhizome, the rhizome will show a distinctive scar that is said to resemble the official seal of King Solomon.
Etymology: Polygonatum comes from the Greek words polys, meaning many, and gonu, meaning knee-joint, in reference to the many joints of the rhizomes. Pubescens means downy.
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Frequent in moist, rich woods in the northern two thirds of the state, becoming very rare in the southern part. I have 86 specimens of my own collecting from which I made this study.
Stem slender, 5-9 dm, mostly erect; cauline bract papery, caducous; lvs narrowly elliptic to broadly oval, 4-12 נ1-6 cm, narrowed below to a short petiole, glabrous above, glaucous and hairy on the smaller veins beneath, with 3-9 prominent nerves, peduncles slender, sharply deflexed, 1-2(-4)-fld; pedicels usually shorter than the peduncle; fls 10-13 mm, yellowish-green; 2n=20. Moist woods and thickets; N.S. to se. Man., s. to Md., Ind., and Minn., and in the mts. to n. Ga. May-July. (P. biflorum, misapplied; P. boreale)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.