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.
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.