Polygonatum biflorum is a perennial monocotyledon herb from a knotty rhizome, sparsely colonial, stem 0.4 to 1.2 m tall, unbranched, nodding.
Leaves alternate, stalkless, ranked along stem, blade 5-15 cm long, 1-8 cm wide, narrowly elliptic to oval, tip pointed, base often clasping, hairless, pale matte blue-green above, pale-waxy greenish-white below, veins 7-19, conspicuous (but much less so than those of Smilacina).
Flowers radially symmetrical, tubular, greenish, 1.4-2.2 cm long, narrow, petal lobes 6, flowers 1-15, in small clusters, pendant on thread-like stalks along stem underside; blooming May-June.
Fruit fleshy, blue, 1-seeded; fruiting Aug.-Sept. Seed load 33%. Pulp nutrients: water 79%, lipid 3%, protein 5%, CHO 59% (White 1989). Probably eaten, and seeds dispersed by birds and small mammals. Dispersal to and establishment in new sites in successional forest, contiguous to old regrowth stands has been calculated at a rate of 1.54 m/yr. (Matlack 1994).
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Frequent.
Habitat: Moist, undisturbed woodland interior, shade tolerant. Tolerates soil acidity down to pH 3.9 (Greller et al 1990). Found in soils with pH 4.8-7.6 (Gargiullo, unpublished data).