Monday, May 11, 2009

Solomon’s Seal Fate Sealed

The patch of Solomon’s seal Polygonatum x hybridum in our garden is just coming into flower, looking immaculate after a light shower of rain, but within about a month its leaves will be reduced to skeletons. Yesterday I watched the current generation of Solomon’s seal sawfly Phymatocera aterrima emerge from their pupae in the soil and begin to climb the stems, with the sawflies' wings still not fully expanded. Within five minutes the males had found the females and they were mating. Within fifteen minutes the females were laying eggs in the leaves. Every year the larvae that develop strip away all the leaf tissue but there doesn’t seem to be any fatal long-term consequences for the plants, which has been spreading steadily in the flower border for the last ten years. The top picture is the sawflies'-eye view of the plant arching overhead, as they emerge for another breeding season and the picture below......


...... shows their highly destructive larvae at work.


  1. That first photo in particular, is a belter.

  2. Great set of pictures Greenfingers. I always learn so much with these visits.
    Those sawfly don't waste much time, do they.

  3. Thanks Dean, I've been experimenting with trying to get a worm's eye view of plant life, but setting the self timer and putting the camera on the ground, facing upwards. It's a bit hit-and-miss but it produces some interesting results ... I don't think I've ever looked into a Solomon's sea flower.

    Thanks holdingmoments, I haven't seen any other Solomon's seal plants in gardens around here so it's a very small isolated colony of sawflies. They don't seem to very strong fliers either. I suspect they originally arrived in the pot that I bought the plant in.