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Botanists have brought two Western natives together under this single genus name. Both are woodland plants that need loose, rich, slightly acidic soil to look their best.

Maianthemum bifolium kamtschaticum (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)
Maianthemum bifolium kamtschaticum (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)

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Maianthemum bifolium kamtschaticum

Native from Northern California to Alaska and Idaho. Grows to 6–8 in. high; in good growing conditions, spreads rapidly by creeping rootstocks to form broad mats. Stems 2–6 in. high bear neat, roundish to heart-shaped, heavily veined leaves to 8 in. long and half as wide. Bears foamy clusters of white flowers in spring, followed by red berries in summer. Makes an attractive woodland groundcover but is capable of overwhelming more delicate plants growing nearby. Disappears in winter.

Maianthemum racemosum

Commonly seen in shaded woods from California to British Columbia, east to the Rockies. Grows to 1–3 ft. high, spreading by creeping rhizomes to form dense colonies. Each single, arching stalk has several medium green, oval to lance-shaped, 3–10-in.-long leaves with hairy undersides; foliage turns golden yellow in fall. In spring, stalks are topped by fluffy, conical clusters of small, fragrant, creamy white flowers. Red berries with purple spots ripen in autumn and are favored by wildlife. Good for naturalizing in wild gardens. Tolerates more sun in cool-summer climates. Resembles true Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum).


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