- Solomon’s Seal Info – Caring For A Solomon’s Seal Plant
- Solomon’s Seal Info
- How to Plant a Solomon’s Seal
- Caring for Solomon’s Seal
- Solomon’s Seal
- Solomon’s Seal
- Garden Plans For Solomon’s Seal
- Colorful Combinations
- Soloman’s Seal Care Must-Knows
- A Collector’s Plant
- More Varieties of Soloman’s Seal
- Plant Solomon’s Seal With:
- Solomons Seal
- Growing Conditions
- Aspect, Planting, and Care
- Solomon’s Seal for Sale
- Plant of the Week: Solomon’s Seal, Giant
- Giant Solomon’s Seal Latin: P. biflorum var. commutatum.
- Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum: “Shady Savior”
- Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ in the garden
- Common names
- Parts used
- Habitat and cultivation
Solomon’s Seal Info – Caring For A Solomon’s Seal Plant
When you’re planning a garden in the shade, the Solomon’s seal plant is a must have. I recently had a friend share some of the fragrant, variegated Solomon’s seal plant (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) with me. I was happy to learn it is the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year, so designated by Perennial Plant Association. Let’s learn more about Solomon’s seal growing.
Solomon’s Seal Info
Solomon’s seal info indicates that scars on the plants where leaves have dropped look like the sixth seal of King Solomon, hence the name.
The variegated variety and the green Solomon’s seal plant are true Soloman’s seal, (Polygonatum spp.). There is also a widely grown False Solomon’s seal plant (Maianthemum racemosum). All three varieties were previously of the Liliaceae family, but the true Solomon’s seals were recently move to the Asparagaceae family, according to Solomon’s seal info. All types perform best in shady or mostly shaded areas and typically deer resistant.
True Solomon’s seal plant reaches 12 inches to several feet in height, blooming in April through June. White bell-shaped blossoms dangle below attractive, arching stems. Flowers become bluish black berries in late summer. The attractive, ribbed foliage turns a golden yellow color in autumn. False Solomon’s seal has similar, opposite leaves, but flowers on the end of the stem in a cluster. False Solomon’s seal growing info says the berries of this plant are a ruby red color.
The green leaved specimen and False Solomon’s seal are native to the United States, while variegated types are native to Europe, Asia and the United States.
How to Plant a Solomon’s Seal
You may find some Solomon’s seal growing in wooded areas of USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7, but don’t disturb the wild plants. Purchase healthy plants from a local nursery or garden center, or get a division from a friend to add this interesting beauty to the woodland garden.
Learning how to plant Solomon’s seal simply requires burying a few of the rhizomes in a shaded area. Solomon’s seal info advises leaving plenty of room for them to spread when initially planting.
These plants prefer moist, well draining soil that is rich, but are drought tolerant and can take some sun without wilting.
Caring for a Solomon’s seal requires watering until the plant is established.
Caring for Solomon’s Seal
Caring for a Solomon’s seal is relatively easy. Keep the soil consistently moist.
There are no serious insect or disease issues with this plant. You’ll find them multiplying by rhizomes in the garden. Divide as needed and move them to other shady areas as they outgrow their space or share with friends.
Solomon’s seal is a classic shade garden plant that adds an architectural component to garden beds, thanks to its arching stems. In spring, these stems become lined with small, bell-shaped white blooms on the undersides. These blossoms later give way to blue-black berries that are adored by wildlife. The spreading and clumping habit of this plant makes a great tall groundcover.
Garden Plans For Solomon’s Seal
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These plants, with their clean green foliage, make great backdrops for other perennials in the garden. New sprouts of Solomon’s seal emerge in early spring and are ornamental in their own right. Emerging shoots hold their leaves tightly against their new stalks, creating playful wands. In some varieties, this new growth is flushed gray purple, creating an even greater sight.
There are very few flower colors of Solomon’s seal—the most common is white with green tips. A few obscure species offer unique bloom colors, such as purple, pink, or orange. The flowers are often pleasantly fragrant. Once flowers have finished blooming, berries soon take their place. These berries begin green and age to purple-blue, then turn black in color. They are poisonous to humans, but birds delight in eating them.
See more of the best early spring flowers for the Midwest.
Soloman’s Seal Care Must-Knows
Solomon’s seal are pretty easy plants to grow. Solomon’s seal plants like dappled shade, rich and organic soils, and plenty of moisture—think woodland plants. Once they are established, they can survive short droughts fairly well. During longer dry periods, however, they do appreciate a good drink of water.
When it comes to exposure, these are plants that do best in part sun, especially sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Because of their love of shade, these plants are often found growing under shade trees. They can take full shade as well, but may be a little bit looser in habit. Solomon’s seal has wonderfully golden fall color, and this shows best in part sun.
Solomon’s seal are steady growers and can form dense colonies of plants over the years. These plants spread by underground stems called rhizomes. Rhizomes can be divided in early spring or fall to create more plants. Simply dig up the plants and carefully separate or cut apart rhizomes, leaving several growing points on each division. This makes these plants easy to contain if you don’t want them spreading too much.
A Collector’s Plant
Most gardeners do not know that there is a whole world of little-known types of Solomon’s seal that make fantastic garden plants. A number of different variegated selections are truly unique, and large variety of plant sizes are available. You can find dwarf forms that are less than 6 inches tall and varieties up to 12 feet tall! These varieties cost a pretty penny and typically aren’t found at commercial garden centers.
More Varieties of Soloman’s Seal
Common Solomon’s seal
Polygonatum x hybridum has gently arching stems with dangling pairs or clusters of cream flowers in late spring. The stout rhizomes are drought tolerant and colonize well. It may reach 5 feet tall. Zones 3-8
Variegated fragrant Solomon’s seal
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ has creamy-edged alternate leaves, and usually pairs of hanging creamy bells. It may grow 3 to 4 feet tall, is very drought tolerant, and is hardy in Zones 3-8
Plant Solomon’s Seal With:
It’s easy to see the origin of bleeding heart’s common name when you get a look at its heart-shape pink or white blooms with a protruding tip at the base of the heart. They grow best in partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil. Some types bloom only in spring and others bloom spring, summer, and fall, provided temperatures aren’t too high.
In early spring, the brilliant blue, pink, or white flowers of lungwort bloom despite the coldest chill. The rough basal leaves, spotted or plain, always please and continue to be handsome through the season and into winter. Planted close as a weed-discouraging groundcover, or in borders as edgings or bright accent plants, lungworts are workhorses and retain their good looks. Provide high-humus soil that retains moisture. Although lungwort tolerates dry conditions, be alert for mildew.
Perfect for cottage and woodland gardens, old-fashioned columbines are available in almost all colors of the rainbow. Intricate little flowers, they are commonly a combination of red, peach, and yellow but also blues, whites, pure yellows, and pinks; they look almost like folded paper lanterns. Columbines thrive in sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Plants tend to be short-lived but self-seed readily, often creating natural hybrids with other nearby columbines. If you want to prevent self-seeding, deadhead plants after bloom.
Exciting new selections with incredible foliage patterns have put coralbells on the map. Previously enjoyed mainly for their spires of dainty reddish flowers, coralbells are now grown as much for the unusual mottling and veining of different-color leaves. The low clumps of long-stemmed evergreen or semi-evergreen lobed foliage make coralbells fine groundcover plants. They enjoy humus-rich, moisture-retaining soil. Beware of heaving in areas with very cold winters.
Solomons Seal are native to woodlands in North America, and can often be found growing in the wild.
This is a hardy and well adapted plant which will give you very little trouble.
It is a relative of the Lily of the Valley, and its flowers greatly resemble those of that plant in shape and fragrance.
With its graceful arching branches, exquisite white flowers shaped like little bells and tipped with yellow or green, the Solomons Seal plant is just the thing for your garden to usher in each new spring season.
The name originates from a mark where the stem rises out of the plant’s rhizome that can often look like two interlocked triangles, the legendary ‘Star of David’ and the symbol of Solomon.
The stems can grow up to four feet high and look extremely attractive with their blue green leaves, each over six inches in length. These leaves will turn golden yellow in autumn, and at that time the plant will have blue berries.
As this is a woodland flower, you should try to re-create its native environment to grow it successfully – but that’s not really difficult.
All plants have a tendency to flourish and spread given the right conditions for their growth.
Choosing a plant that is native to your climate is much better than attempting to grow some sub-tropical plant in conditions that are just not right for its growth.
To grow Solomons Seal, all you need to do is provide it with a rich humus-laden soil and sufficient, though not excessive, moisture.
Leaf compost is excellent for providing the organic components that it needs, especially as it replicates conditions on a forest floor so accurately. As leaves from deciduous trees fall to the floor and begin to rot, they form the kind of soil where plants like Solomon’s Seal can thrive.
Remember the soil needs to be kept moist, but it must never be marsh-like.
Solomon’s Seal is easily obtained from nurseries and garden centres. Don’t ‘steal’ the plant from a wild habitat as this detracts from the natural beauty of the country.
Propagation by Division
Whether you plant rhizomes or transplants, planting is best done in the spring or in the fall.
If you attempt to grow from seeds, its seeds can sometimes take two years to germinate.
When you plant transplants or rhizomes, put them into the soil to a depth of two inches, and space them about three inches apart.
Propagate by division about every three years or so. It is a rather slow grower so have patience.
Aspect, Planting, and Care
Locate in partial to deep shade. Putting them under trees, or in the shadow of a house, hedge or wall, it will protect them from the sun during the hottest part of the day.
These plants are survivors and will not die easily once established. However, you will have to care for them until they are established being careful to not let the soil dry out.
Mulch over winter, the plant is very hardy and will usually survive winters that are not overwhelmingly harsh.
The berries are very attractive in their own right, don’t ‘deadhead’ the flowers or the berries will not form.
Solomon’s Seal for Sale
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Solomon’s Seal is a relative of lily-of-the-valley, resembling the dainty fragrant bell shaped flowers. The long arching stems ranging from 3 to 4 feet are the main attraction. The leaves start half way up the stem and continue to the end. They are a rich deep green to bluish green and grow to 7 inches long.
The flowers are white with a yellow to green tips, which dangle down under the foliage. In autumn or fall the leaves turn a bright yellow and it bears blue-black berries.
While this wonderful flower for shade gardening will grow in just about any soil, even dry soil, it will do much better in a good composted, humus rich well drained soil. Add leaf mold before planting and keep on the moist side.
There are several species to choose from. I’m partial to the variegated, with its creamy white edges (P. odoratum Variegatum). The P. commutatum (Great Solomon’s Seal) has yellow flowers and grows to 6 feet. And let’s not forget Fragrant Solomon’s Seal with its captivating fragrance.
When first planted loosen the soil, add compost and keep moist until well established. This shade tolerant flower likes a light and loose type of soil.
If you like long arching stems, this is the plant for you. Other names include Saint Mary’s Seal and Lady’s Seal.
Flower Shade Gardening
Plant of the Week: Solomon’s Seal, Giant
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not promote, support or recommend plants featured in “Plant of the Week.” Please consult your local Extension office for plants suitable for your region.
Giant Solomon’s Seal
Latin: P. biflorum var. commutatum.
Giant Solomon’s Seal is one of the most elegant shade garden plants. (Photo courtesy Gerald Klingaman)
Patience is a virtue, especially in gardening. Amongst my favorite plants in my shade garden are several species of Solomon’s Seals in the genus Polygonatum. The Solomon’s Seals are all herbaceous rhizomatous perennials that can form large, bold colonies but your patience will be sorely tested as you await their spread.
About 50 species of Solomon’s Seals are described in the botanical literature with species found in North America, Europe and Asia. These plants are former members of the giant lily family but are now classified as belonging to the asparagus family. In the United States Polygonatum biflorum is the most common with it found in almost all of the states east of the Rockies. In such a wide geographic range and a multitude of habitats, the species varies considerably and botanists have often given divergent forms their own Latin names. The Giant Solomon’s Seal I purchased as Polygonatum giganteum is now correctly referred to as P. biflorum var. commutatum.
Giant Solomon’s Seal is said to grow to 7 feet tall but for me it has yet to exceed 4 feet in height. It has a single unbranched arching stem that arises from the rhizome in mid spring. Its 5-inch long sessile leaves are arranged alternately up the stem and are held upright like bat wings on the up stroke of flight. The upper leaf surface is a bright shiny green with the undersurface a glaucous gray.
When the stem is fully extended flowers begin appearing below the arching stems on inch long dangling peduncles. The peduncles terminate in two paired flowers on less vigorous stems but on more vigorous plants, six or more individual blooms may be produced on each peduncle. The fleshy flowers are inch long white tubes tipped with a green band of six petals. Were I a jewelry designer, I would use the drooping peduncles of Solomon’s Seal as a model for ear rings. In late summer, the flowers are followed by plump, pea-sized blue-black berries.
I also grow a locally collected strain of Solomon’s Seal that, though the botanists assure me is in the same genus, appears quite different from Giant Solomon’s Seal. The local strain blooms about three weeks later, it has a 2-inch long peduncle, the flowers are not fleshy and the leaves are not as thick and luxuriant. Both are fine plants but the giant form has more garden worthy characteristics.
Solomon’s Seal is given this common name because the stem scar is said to resemble the official Seal of King Solomon. The Greek name used for the European species during the time of Dioscorides (40-90 AD) was Sigillium Solomonis. The association of the plant with King Solomon does indeed seem to be an ancient one. Gerard, in his 1630 herbal, used the name Polygonatum latifolium for the same species, beating Linnaeus to the punch by over a century.
I have found all of the five species of Solomon’s Seals I grow to be slow to establish, but once settled in they are almost indestructible in the garden. Once the establishment stage is past – for me taking at least five years – the colonies tend to increase fairly rapidly with the size of the stand radiating outward like a restrained bamboo.
Propagation is easy by division of the clump or by seed. Growing plants from seed is slow with two years required to break seed dormancy and then two to three years more required to grow plants large enough to transplant into the garden. Division of Solomon’s Seal rhizomes should be done in late winter before plants begin to grow. I divided a dense stand of Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ – a truly musical sounding name – and ended up with a bunch of rhizomes that did not have an actively growing bud. These rhizomes were potted but during the following summer nothing emerged. I was slow to dump the pots and was surprised the following spring – a full year after potting – to find the “blind” rhizomes had sprouted and quickly formed attractive plants.
Solomon’s Seals are ideal for shaded, woodland gardens where they can be allowed to grow undisturbed. They are best in fertile, reasonably moist locations in soils with an acidic pH.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Retired Extension Horticulturist – Ornamentals
Extension News – April 13, 2012
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.
Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum: “Shady Savior”
As a garden designer, I am often asked to recommend plants that are foolproof, black-thumb proof, and low-maintenance. As well as beautiful, of course! A constructive conversation about real-life plant care usually follows. But if the garden under discussion happens to enjoy shade (often seen as a curse), there is a perennial that comes to the rescue, every time: Solomon’s seal checks all those boxes. Polygonatum is a shining shade garden star.
Continue reading to learn how to grow Solomon’s seal, and what you can expect in return.
Photography by Marie Viljoen unless otherwise noted.
Above: Solomon’s seal is the high-performing savior of gardens where shade defines the growing conditions.
With species native to several continents, including North America, the various varieties and cultivars of the Polygonatum genus have in common their distinctively arching stems and delicately pendulous spring flowers. They add an effortless and graceful structure to gardens, as well as significant seasonal variation and interest.
Above: Photograph by Elizabeth via Flickr.
The first shoots appear in early spring, growing from the substantial rhizomes that have overwintered beneath the soil. Over time Solomon’s seal can form dense, textural colonies. After they are established, it is a good idea to divide the clumps every few years to control their spread.
Above: Photograph by Wplynn via Flickr.
Several weeks later the stalks have grown lush and thigh high. Ivory flowers, frilled with a flared green skirt, hang delicately in scented bells from the bowed stems. They persist for weeks. The blooms are irresistible to early spring bees.
Above: Smooth Solomon’s seal is Polygonatum biflorum and occurs natively in North America east of the Rockies. It has solid green leaves and flowers hanging in pairs (biflorum is horticultural speak for “two flowers”).
Unlike many spring flowering plants, which begin to look peaky as summer progresses, Solomon’s seal remains handsome all season long, its stalks firm, its leaves perfect. Cut the stems to add to garden bouquets all year long.
Above: Photograph by Abby via Flickr.
Variegated Solomon’s seal is of Asian origin. Polygonatum odoratum f. variegatum is a long mouthful for the elegant plant, whose white-streaked leaves brighten shady corners.
Above: Photograph by JardinsLeeds via Flickr.
There is even a tiny form of Solomon’s seal for petite gardens, rock gardens, or for the very front of beds: Polygonatum humile tops out at about eight inches and its stems are more upright than its tall cousins’.
Above: Photograph by Klasse im Garten via Flickr.
The lovely perennial Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum‘Variegatum’) has been named the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.
This graceful shade-lover is grown for its handsome all-season variegated foliage. It blooms in late spring with dangling white flowers tinted with a hint of green.
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ in the garden
Photo: Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association
Variegated Solomon’s Seal spreads by rhizomes to form colonies, which make an effective ground-cover.
The clumps grow 18 to 24 inches tall and have an upright, arching form.
The variegated light green leaves have white margins and white tips; in the fall they turn an attractive yellow.
The small, fragrant, bell-shaped white flowers have green tips and hang attractively from arching stems.
How to grow:
Variegated Solomon’s Seal is perfect for a woodland garden or flower border in full or part-shade. It’s easy to grow, thriving in moist well-drained soil, and even in dry shade.
This perennial is rarely bothered by insects or disease and it will do grow well under walnut trees. Many sources consider Solomon’s Seal to be deer-resistant, although deer do sometimes do try it.
Solomon’s Seal is an excellent companion for other shade-lovers, such as astilbe, ferns, hostas, wild ginger, epimedium and pulmonaria. If you want more plants, established clumps are easy to divide, and you can do this either in early spring or early autumn.
A note about the common name: Solomon’s Seal is associated with John Gerard, an English botanist and herbalist, who believed that the plant’s dried and powdered roots could be an effective remedy for broken bones and thought it could also seal wounds.
Sharing is caring!
I’ve been working in my garden lately and whooeeshh…between the heat and the ripping out the big overgrown weeds, my back has been tight and inflamed. It made me think about one of my favorite root remedies for inflammation and strengthening of the musculoskeletal system: Solomon’s Seal. I often reach for Solomon’s Seal – both in a tincture and oil… this is hands down one of my favorite powerhouse herbs for arthritis, rheumatism, joint injuries, spine injuries and so much more.
When I first started learning about the medicinal uses of plants, I knew I had this in my yard: I loved the height and structure at the back of my garden and how it loved the shady wet corner. I didn’t realize that the beautiful “ornamental” Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s Seal) was actually contained wealth of healing properties. Solomon’s Seal has a beautifully long stalk with alternating deep green leaves that produces little white umbel flowers in the spring that hang down where the hummingbirds come in to sip the nectar. The leaves I don’t really use but I do seek the root: a delicate tuber that is all weaved in and out of each other to harvest and make medicine with. This year, I was blessed with three pounds of this “miracle” root from a friend of a friend who ethically and sustainably maintains his patch in southwest Virginia. It was such a blessed day having those roots in the shop – all gnarly and sweet to munch on – and I had this feeling of euphoria wash over me, encouraging me to share this potent healer with as many folks as I possibly can. I encourage you to plant, harvest, use it in your day-to-day and then share away! There is so much empowerment in plant powered wellness I can’t help but share more.
I learned about Solomon’s Seal as one of my first herbs through my teacher, Matt Wood an eclectic herbalist and general genius on Western herbalism. I knew this plant closely as a gardener, it’s interwoven notched rhizomes twisted around each other creating knots and a puzzle work that speaks to it’s doctrine of signatures of helping ease the pain of tightness and constriction.
This is hands down my favorite musculoskeletal herbs for supporting and strengthen the entire system by soothing inflamed tissues, moistening the respiratory tract, nourishing during menopause and for my creaky back, it promotes flexibility and I LOVE it for repetitive motion injuries (ex: tendentious) as an oil and tincture. We have Solomon’s Seal in our aptly named Joint Juice. Why that terrible name? For one, I couldn’t think of anything else yet and, two, it supports the ligaments and tendons and by tightening and loosening them as needed.
An Important Note about Safety:
Solomon’s Seal seem innocuous and so widely useful, but parts of it are poisonous. Except for the root and tender young shoots, all parts of the adult plant, especially the berries are poisonous and should not be consumed. The berries are stated to excite vomiting, and even the leaves, nausea, if chewed. (http://www.Solomonsseal.net/abouttheplant.html )
More from the Herbalist Eye:
Key Energetics: Moistening and Cooling
Habitat: Grows in the Northeast and Midwest as a shade loving woodland plant that will spread rapidly when in good soil and has space to grow.
Plant Spirit: I use it on an energetic level for strengthening and acting as a protectant herb especially when used with Vervain and Agrimony.
Herbal Actions and Details:
Mild Sedative: soothes nervousness, distress, irritation and inflammation associated with muscles and connective tissues, bursae, menstrual cramps
Vulnerary (wound healing): Solomon’s Seal works on sprains and strains inflamed tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
Demulcent (mucilaginous herb meaning it’s slimy and coating): it is cooling, soothing and moistening for throat lungs and skin. Indications specific for dry coughs (as a tea).
Tonic Herb: toning the kidneys, heart and reproductive organs and is soothing on the digestive system, can be beneficial to the skin.
Anti-Rheumatic: eases pain, infection in the joints, inflammation. On connective tissues it works on stiffness, injury, overuse, underuse and lack of nourishment and detox to the connective tissue.
Adaptogenic: it helps to adapt internally to bones, connective tissues, joints etc by boosting up the immune system. It also directly “feeds” the irritated joints and cleanses by reducing inflammation.
Diuretic & Mild Laxative: increases the secretion and flow of urine by flushing the body of toxins and excess water, provides kidney support.
Anti-Inflammatory: One of the constitutions in Solomon’s Seal is allantoin and may counteract the inflammatory response for injuries related to the muscular-skeletal systems.
Other herbalist have used Solomon’s Seal for moistening of the lungs when irritated, as an expectorant and as a cardiovascular tonic. I can’t speak to these yet but I will definitely be adding this to the list of possibilities.
As always: Matt Wood – who first taught me and many others the beautiful benefits and history of this herb http://www.woodherbs.com/TrueSolomon’sSeal.html
Jim Mcdonald for the use and especially harvesting techniques: https://www.herbcraft.org/solseal.html
I also referenced http://www.Solomonsseal.net/abouttheplant.html for a lot of great info above, there is a really cool zone chart on plantings, and the contra-indications below:
Solomon’s Seal is safe for most adults when taken for short time periods. As with many herbs and medications, it may cause some side effects such as diarrhea, stomach complaints, and nausea when taken for long time periods or in large doses. The serving size suggested for taking the herb as a tincture or tea have very minimal risk. However, it is sensible to create a protocol that does not create a dependency, such as 6 days of ingestion to 1 day off, or 10-14 days ingestion and 2-3 days off.Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of Solomon’s Seal during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, as with taking any drug or medication, consultation with a medical practitioner may be appropriate… Diabetes: Solomon’s Seal might decrease blood sugar levels. There is potential that it might interfere with blood sugar control. If you use Solomon’s seal and take diabetes medications, monitor your blood sugar closely. Again, medical consultation may be appropriate…. Surgery: Solomon’s Seal might lower blood sugar levels. It might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery.
Photo by @-adege
Colleen O’Bryant is a trained herbalist and not a licensed doctor or registered healthcare practitioner. She cannot and does not claim to diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines. Colleen O’Bryant does not claim that the information and products she provides to Client will prevent, alleviate, or cure any diseases or medical conditions. The information and products Colleen and Wild Roots Apothecary provides is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal products, particularly if you have a known medical condition, allergy or if you are pregnant or nursing. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises. Wild Roots Apothecary statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA and they are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Client understands that Colleen is not yet certified by the American Herbalists Guild, but by working with clients such as yourself she is gaining the required hours of practice to apply towards her certification.
Wild Roots Apothecary does not claim to be a pharmacy or prescribe medicines. Additionally, Wild Roots does not claim to be able to cure or relieve the client’s specific condition or illness with the herbal formulations or recommendations provided.
- Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s seal (botanical name, Polygonatum multiflorum) is a perennial herb that is found growing in damp sandy, loamy or stony woods and thickets. The plant has a groveling rootstock or underground stem, which is chunky and has a white color. The underground stem is entwined having several knots along with spherical blemishes at intervals. These scars have been left behind by the leaf stems of the preceding years. The plant establishes stems that grow up to a height of 18 inches to two feet and occasionally even higher. These stems grow straight for a considerable length and subsequently lean over elegantly. These stems are round, have a light green color and are leafless around half-way up. From there to the top, they produce big and generally oval-shaped leaves that emerge alternately on the stem, especially holding onto it by the bases. All the leaves of the herb possess a special character and that is of turning one away, being somewhat curved upward and also to one side. The leaves also have distinct longitudinal ribs on their surfaces.
The flowers produced by Solomon’s seal appear in slight saggy clusters, each comprising two to seven blooms. The flowers spring from the leaf axils, but hang in a reverse direction to the plants. The flowers have a tube-like shape and have a creamy or waxy white hue and yellowish-green at the top. The flowers of the Solomon’s seal possess a sweet aroma and are succeeded by small blackish-blue berries, each approximately of the size of a pea. The color of the berries also varies and may be found to be red and even purple. Each berry encloses around three to four small seeds.
The generic name of the plant Polygonatum denotes multiple-angles and it is believed to have been derived either from the several knots or swellings on the roots of the plant or from the multiple nodes or joints on the stem. However, the attributes are not prominently distinguished. On the other hand, the specific name, multiflorum, helps to differentiate this multi-flowered species from another species wherein the blossoms are single or appear only in pairs from every leaf axil.
The herbalists of the medieval period had such great faith on the healing powers of Solomon seal, especially in curing wounds that they believed that the deep blemishes along the rhizome or rootstock of the plant had been positioned there by the wise king and well-known magician Solomon as an evidence of the therapeutic attributes of the herb.
It may be noted that the rhizome of Solomon’s seal produces new stems every year and these stems fade away during the summer, leaving behind a scar that has resemblance to the wax seals that were used in the past to close letters. One is able to calculate the age of the plant by counting the scars on the rhizomes. A species of the genus found in Europe – P. officinale, has distinct resemblance to the species found in America. These species along with other plants belonging to the Polygonatum species not only have close resemblance, but also possess similar therapeutic properties and uses.
During the 16th century, the English herbalist John Gerard asserted that the rhizome of Solomon’s seal was a cure-all for different types of wounds, cuts and bruises, counting those that were ‘sustained by falls or the wilfulness of women to stumble on their hasty fists of their husbands’. The roots of Solomon’s seal encloses a substance known as allantoin, which is extracted from other plant sources and used in preparing modern medicines for external treatment of skin ulcers as well as wounds.
Similar to arnica, it is believed that even the Solomon’s seal also prevents excessive bruising as well as promotes repair of damaged tissues. This herb is mostly used in the form of a poultice. As the rhizome of the plant possesses astringent as well as demulcent (soothing) actions, these facilitate in speeding up the healing process. In addition, herbal medicine practitioners also recommend Solomon’s seal for treating tuberculosis, and menstrual problems as well as a general tonic for the body. Solomon’s seal is considered to be a yin tonic in Chinese herbal medicine and it is believed to be especially applicable to problems that affect the respiratory system. It is also used to treat painful throats, chest pain, dry and prickly coughs as well as bronchial congestion.
An infusion prepared with the herb helps to heal wounds and facilitates in restoring health. It is also beneficial for problems related to the gastro-intestines, such as stomach inflammations, chronic dysentery and others. The dry roots of Solomon’s seal are powdered to prepare an effective poultice for treating inflammations, piles, bruises as well as a number of other similar problems. As aforementioned, the roots or rhizomes of the herb are harvested in autumn, dried and stored for use when necessary. The dried powder of the roots and flowers of the Solomon’s seal have also been used as a snuff to encourage sneezing and, thereby, clear the bronchial passages. Unless there is any kind of professional supervision, the plant or any medications prepared with it should never be used internally. It may be noted that distilled water prepared from the whole Solomon’s seal plant has been used as a tonic for the skin and it also forms an active ingredient in a number of expensive cosmetic products.
A potent decoction prepared with the whole plant has been found to be effective in curing erysipelas (a severe streptococcal infectious disease of the skin) when taken at intervals of two to three hours. In addition, this decoction can also be applied topically to the affected parts. There was a time when the bruised Solomon’s seal roots mixed with cream were extensively used as a popular remedy for black eyes. The smashed leaves were also used to prepare a stiff ointment along with lard to cure the same problem.
Crushed Solomon seal’s roots may be macerated in water for some time to yield a substance that mainly consists of starch and may be used as a food. Even the young shoots of the plant can be used as a wonderful vegetable. It can be boiled and consumed in the same manner as asparagus. People in Turkey consume this substance extensively. The roots of a different species of Polygonatum are used to prepare bread when food is scarce. However, these roots should be boiled and baked prior to consuming them.
In earlier days, the flowers as well as the roots of Solomon’s seal were in fashion as aphrodisiacs, for being used as love philtres (beverages that are believed to arouse love and passion) as well as potions. The small blackish-blue berries of Solomon’s seal are said to promote vomiting, while the leaves are know to cause nausea when chewed.
Other medical uses
- Dry Mouth
Habitat and cultivation
Solomon’s seal is indigenous to Europe as well as the temperate climatic regions of North America and Asia. The herb rarely grows in the wild. Nevertheless, it is a very common decorative garden plant. The rhizome, which possesses most of the plant’s therapeutic properties, is dug out during autumn. It is possible to grow Solomon’s seal for ground cover and for this, the plants need to be grown no less than 30 cm apart from each other on all sides.
This herb has a preference for fertile soils that are humus rich as well as able to retain moisture. In addition, the soil needs to be well drained. Although Solomon’s seal thrives well in cool shade or partial shade, the plant has the aptitude to succeed even in dry shade provided the soil is rich in humus content. This herb grows best in heavy clay soils. Solomon’s seal plants are unable to endure heat or drought, but can tolerate most other weather conditions. According to another report, the plants are able to endure drought too as long as the soil is rich in humus content.
Solomon’s seal is a very ornate plant that grows excellently on the edges of woodlands. This species has a number of named forms too. Members belonging to this genus are seldom found to be troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. The young shoots of Solomon’s seal and majority of the other members of this genus are extremely eye-catching to slugs. Solomon’s seal easily hybridizes with the other plants belonging to this genus – Polygonatum.
Solomon’s seal plants are generally propagated by their seeds. It is advisable to sow the seeds immediately after they ripen during the early part of autumn. The seeds should be sown in a shady portion of a cold frame. If you are using stored seeds, sow them at the earliest part of the year possible. The germination of Solomon’s seal seeds may be sluggish, and they might not come as expected and it generally takes a number of years for the plants to reach a reasonable size. When the seedlings have grown sufficiently large to be handled, pick them out individually and plant them into separate pots. Grow these seedlings in the pots in a shady part of the greenhouse for the duration of their first winter. The young plants may be transplanted in their permanent positions outdoors during the later part of spring or in early summer after the last expected frost of the season has passed.
Alternately, the plant may also be propagated by root division in March or October. Larger root divisions can be planted directly into their permanent positions outdoors. It has been found that it is always better to create the small divisions and grow them in partial shade in a cold frame till they are properly established. Once they have been established well, they can be planted in their permanent positions outdoors in the later part of spring or early summer.
Although the roots of Salomon’s seal are believed to possess numerous healing properties, scientists are yet to completely examine the attributes of the herb’s roots/ rhizomes. It is said that a decoction prepared with the roots of Solomon’s seal will not only alleviate skin disorders, but also be helpful in completely curing the problems.
Chemical analysis of the Solomon’s seal has revealed that this herb encloses saponins, which are akin to diosgenin, flavonoids as well as vitamin A.