Searching is the operative word when finding Solomon Seal or False Solomon Seal. Both of these plants like ravine floors or the edges of creek banks. Both are uncommon finds.
These two plants are in the lily family and look similar and like Large Bellwort without the flowers. The leaves are long, pointed, broad with veins running their lengths. Those of Solomon Seal and Bellwort clasp their stems. False Seal leaves do not clasp the stem.
Surprisingly I found a group of these plants along my road. A small spring runs water down the side then across the road at this point on the hill. The shade is deep all summer. This makes this stretch of road seem like a ravine and a number of plants common there are showing up.
In the ravines I found lots of large bellworts. Their flowers are gone now. The remaining stem, unless it still has a seed pod on it, looks a lot like Solomon Seal. I check under the leaves for flower buds.
This is another easy way to differentiate real from false. Flowers on the real seal hang down in pairs along the stem. Flowers on the false seal form a flower stalk at the end of the stem and point up.
Supposedly both of these plants are edible. That is useful survival knowledge but they don’t sound appetizing under other circumstances. Besides, they must be dug up and the plants are not common.
Once I found this group of Solomon Seal plants, I started checking the flower buds. They were small and green. They got longer and fatter but stayed green. They got big and fat and started turning white. I’m so glad this group was a short walk away.
At last the first flowers opened. These are not full white but a greenish white. Only the end opens into a pointed scalloped fringe exposing the flower parts within.
The false version seemed no where around. I checked all the usual spots and found nothing. It does grow up in the ravines here but not where I was looking evidently.
Down the road a ravine goes in. I haven’t done a lot of exploring in this one as it gets very overgrown. This year I pushed on in and now have a small trail which had a broken branch fall across it so there is now a detour.
There are some large rocks on the side with ferns growing on them. Purple cliffbrake is one. Another is one of the woodsia ones I think. My fern identification needs work. But I found a new one, a resurrection fern there.
This fern dries up in dry times looking shriveled and brown. With a big rain the fronds revive and turn green again. It doesn’t care for frost either.
A big rain storm came through so I went to see the resurrection fern. There in the beginning of the ravine was a False Solomon Seal in full bloom.
Serendipity is definitely a part of botany when it comes to looking for plants.