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Clintonia borealis - (Aiton.)Raf.
Common Name Bluebeard
Family Convallariaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rich woodlands, deep thickets, higher elevations in cool moist sites[43, 62].
Range North-eastern N. America - Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to N. Carolina and Wisconsin..
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade


Clintonia borealis Bluebeard

Elaine Haug @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Clintonia borealis Bluebeard
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Clintonia borealis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Smilacena borealis.

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - raw or cooked[61, 105, 177]. Harvested in spring before they fully unfurl[62], they have a slightly sweetish cucumber flavour[55, 183]. Older leaves can be used as a potherb[55].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cardiac;  Disinfectant;  Poultice.

The leaves are cardiac and disinfectant[257]. A poultice has been applied to open wounds, burns, ulcers, scrofulous sores and infections[257].


Other Uses
Disinfectant;  Repellent.

The crushed leaves have been rubbed on the face and hands as a protection from mosquitoes[257].
Cultivation details
Prefers a damp peaty sandy soil in a cool damp shady position[1, 42, 200]. Requires a moist neutral to acid soil[200]. The dormant plant is hardy to at least -25°c, but new growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts[187]. Plants only produce their fruit in warm seasons in Britain[200]. They have creeping underground stems and form dense colonies[187]. This species is closely related to C. andrewsiana[188].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the spring[200]. Stored seed should be sown in late winter or early spring in a cold frame[164]. It sometimes germinates within 1 - 3 months at 15°c, but may take a year. The seed should be completely separated from the fruit and should only just be covered by soil[164, 200]. If the seed has been sown thinly enough, then it is possible to leave the seedlings in the pot for their first growing season, dividing them after they become dormant. Make sure to give them liquid feeds at intervals through the spring and summer. Otherwise prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Plant out in late spring or early summer at the beginning of their second or third years growth. Division in spring as new growth is just commencing[200].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Clintonia udensis 20
Clintonia umbellulataSpeckled Wood Lily, White clintonia20


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Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Kelley Rambo   Thu, 17 Dec 1998 20:17:19
Just curious about your entry on Clintonia (plant of the northeast US). I have found that here we call it bluebead, not bluebeard. I'm not sure if it's a typo-error or just a difference in translation. But thought I'd bring it to your attention. Looks like a nice page full of great info.
William F. Matthews   Fri May 4 2007
Correct Family name: Convallariaceae or Liliaceae? We were told as children that the fruit is poisonous. Do you know if this is correct?
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sun May 6 2007
There are some reports that the fruit is mildly toxic and that eating it can cause mild gastric upsets. These same reports also state that the leaves are edible.
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Subject : Clintonia borealis  

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