Polygonatum biflorum (smooth Solomon's-seal, great Solomon's-seal, Solomon's seal). The plant is said to possess scars on the leaf stalk that resemble the ancient Hebrew seal of King Solomon. This is a species of the genus Polygonatum native to eastern and central North America. It is often confused with Solomon's Plume which has upright flowers.
Unbranched leaf stalks of one to several feet in length, with simple, alternate leaves and parallel veins. In May, clusters of small white-green flowers droop from the stalks and later produce small blue berries. When the plant loses its foliage in the fall, the scars resembling Solomon’s Seal become visible on the rhizomes.
Polygonatum is derived from Greek, “poly” meaning many, and “gony” meaning knees. biflorum is from Latin “biflorus” meaning two flowers.
P. biflorum is now regarded as including a number of other species and varieties, e.g. P. biflorum var. commutatum or P. commutatum.
Historically, the Native Americans consumed the starch-rich rhizomes of Solomon’s Seal as a “potato-like food” used to made breads and soups. The young shoots are also edible, raw or boiled for an asparagus-like food. Solomon’s seal was not only consumed for sustenance, but also for its medicinal properties. For example, the rhizome was used in making a tonic for gout and rheumatism. Solomon’s Seal is listed today in the Handbook of Medicinal Herbs as having nearly a dozen medicinal uses including as an anti-inflammatory, sedative, and tonic. Solomon’s Seal is not used in large-scale agriculture.
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- Flora of North American 26. pp. 211–211.
- Eric Toensmeier (December 13, 2009). "Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum – giant Solomon's seal". Retrieved July 28, 2013.
- Bausor, S. C. (1937). "Medicinal Plants of Our Local Flora". Torreya 373 (3): 45. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
- Duke, J. A. (2002). Handbook of medicinal herbs (2nd ed., pp. 25-26). Boca Raton: CRC Press.
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