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     In 1753 Linnaeus placed the two plants shown on this page in the genus Convallaria, Rene Desfontaines renamed the genus Smilacina in 1807, and Johann Heinrich Link renamed it Maianthemum in 1821. Although Smilacina was the accepted genus name for much of the 20th century, Maianthemum is now widely accepted.

Click for more Maianthemum.
Also see Prosartes and Streptopus.

Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule
Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule. Synonyms: Maianthemum amplexicaule, Smilacina racemosa. (Solomon’s Plume).
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Lower Stoner Mesa Trail, May 26, 2004.

Maianthemum racemosum, sometimes confused with Maianthemum stellatum (see below) and Streptopus fassettii, can be distinguished by its broader leaves and tassel-like flower cluster.  Although it is rhizomatous, sprouting new plants from lateral underground roots, it tends to grow in fewer numbers than M. stellatum.  Maianthemum racemosum is a common plant in mid-altitude woods, thriving in moist locations where plants often grow quite robust and several feet tall.

Linnaeus named this species Convallaria racemosa in 1753, Desfontaines renamed it Smilacina racemosa in 1807, Weber accepts the name, Maianthemum amplexicaule, and Kartesz calls it Maianthemum racemosum.  (Nuttall named the species Smilacina amplexicaulis in 1834.) 

"Maianthemum" means "May Flower", "racemosum" describes the inflorescence arrangement, and "amplexicaule" describes the "clasping" of the stem by the leaves.

Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule
Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule. Synonyms: Maianthemum amplexicaule, Smilacina racemosa. (Solomon’s Plume).
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Lower Stoner Mesa Trail, May 26, 2004.

Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule
Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule. Synonyms: Maianthemum amplexicaule, Smilacina racemosa. (Solomon’s Plume).
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Lizard Head Trail, June 9, 2006.

Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule
Maianthemum racemosum subspecies amplexicaule. Synonyms: Maianthemum amplexicaule, Smilacina racemosa. (Solomon’s Plume).
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Vallecito Creek Trail, September 13, 2010.

Maianthemum stellatum
Maianthemum stellatumSynonym: Smilacina stellata. (Star Lily)
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
West Mancos Trail, June 17, 2010.

Star Lily is common in the rich moist soils of Aspen woods where it commonly grows in large patches of dozens of plants.  It is especially noticeable on the uphill side of trails arching its tiny star-like flowers downhill toward hikers.

Linnaeus named this species Convallaria stellata in 1753, Desfontaines renamed it Smilacina stellata in 1807, and Link named it Maianthemum stellatum in 1821.

"Stellatum" is Latin for "star".

Maianthemum stellatum
Maianthemum stellatum.  Synonym: Smilacina stellata.  (Star Lily)
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 28, 2004.

In dark woods, plants can be few and scattered.

Maianthemum stellatum

Maianthemum stellatum

Maianthemum stellatum.  Synonym: Smilacina stellata. (Star Lily)
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
East Fork of the Dolores Trail, June 30, 2006.
North of Durango, May 29, 2007.

In more open woods, plants abound.  Flowers are tiny and hard to see unless you are on your hands and knees, but the dozens of arching plants with pointed leaves are easily noticed -- and quite common.

Maianthemum stellatum
Maianthemum stellatum.  Synonym: Smilacina stellata. (Star Lily)
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 28, 2004.

Fresh flowers grow at the tip and ripening fruit (now yellow, but soon to be red), grows in the fading petals at the base of the raceme of flowers.

Maianthemum stellatum
Maianthemum stellatum.  Synonym: Smilacina stellata. (Star Lily)
Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom Family)
formerly Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands. Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, June 17, 2006.

Ripening seed capsules.

Click for more Maianthemum.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color KeySpecies present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Maianthemum racemosum

Range map for Maianthemum stellatum