This article has been marked as incomplete and in need of reformatting. Please help us to improve it.

Practical Plants is a community wiki. You can edit this page to improve the quality of the information it contains. To learn how, please read the editing guide.


Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[1][2]. The fruit is about the size of a pea and is produced on the plant in small terminal clusters of about 2 - 8 berries[3]. It has a nice bitter-sweet flavour that is somewhat reminiscent of treacle[85, K]. The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, it has been used to prevent scurvy[4]. The fruit is said to be laxative in large quantities when eaten raw, especially if you are not used to eating it, though thorough cooking removes this laxative effect[K].

Young leaves - raw or cooked. The young shoots, as they emerge in spring, can be used as an asparagus substitute[5]. The young shoots and leaves are cooked and used as greens[6].

Root - cooked. It should be soaked in alkaline water first to get rid of a disagreeable taste[5][4]. It can be eaten like potatoes[4].



Material uses

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 60cm apart each way[7]. An inferior cover to S. racemosa[7].
There are no material uses listed for Smilacena stellata.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Star-flowered lily of the valley was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints[8]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.

A tea made from the roots is drunk to regulate menstrual disorders[4]. A decoction of the leaves is taken 2 - 3 times a day in the treatment of rheumatism and colds[8]. Half a cup of leaf tea drunk daily for a week by a woman is said to prevent conception[4][8].

The root is analgesic, antiseptic, haemostatic, ophthalmic, stomachic and vulnerary[8]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach complaints, internal pains and to regulate menstrual disorders[8]. The dried powdered root has been used in treating wounds and bleeding[4][8]. The crushed root has been used as a poultice on sprains, boils, swellings and limbs affected by rheumatism[8]. The pulped root has been used as ear drops to treat ear aches[8]. An infusion of the roots has been used as a wash for inflamed eyes[8].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking 18 months. Stored seed should be sown in a cold frame as soon as possible, it may take 2 years or longer to germinate. Grow the seedlings on in a shady part of a greenhouse for their first year without pricking them out, giving them liquid or foliar feeds as required to ensure that they do not become nutrient deficient. Divide the young plants up into individual pots in the autumn when they are dormant, and grow them on for at least another year in a shady part of the greenhouse. When the plants have reached a sufficient size, plant them out in the autumn whilst they are dormant. Division in spring or early autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Smilacena stellata. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a deep fertile humus rich moisture retentive soil, neutral to slightly acid, that does not dry out in the growing season, and a shady position[9]. Does well in a woodland garden[9].

Plants have a creeping rhizome and can form extensive patches[10]. Fruits well in a shady woodland position at Kew[K]. Hardy to about -25°c[10]. Plants are slow to establish but then can become invasive[7].

The flowers are powerfully scented[11].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Smilacena stellata. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Smilacena stellata.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Smilacena stellata
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? 1.01.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
    3. ? 3.03.1 Turner. N. J. Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples UBC Press. Vancouver. ISBN 0-7748-0533-1 (1995-00-00)
    4. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    5. ? Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers The Riverside Press ISBN 63-7093 (1963-00-00)
    7. ? Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
    8. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    9. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30936-9 (1991-00-00)
    11. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
    12. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)