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Polygonatum multiflorum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Polygonatum
  • Axillaria Raf.
  • Salomonia Heist. ex Fabr.
  • Evallaria Neck.
  • Siphyalis Raf.
  • Codomale Raf.
  • Troxilanthes Raf.
  • Campydorum Salisb.
  • Sigillum Montandon in F.Friche-Joset
  • Periballanthus Franch. & Sav.

Polygonatum /ˌpɒlɪˈɡɒnətəm/,[2] also known as King Solomon's-seal or Solomon's seal, is a genus of flowering plants. In the APG III classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly the family Ruscaceae).[3] It has also been classified in the former family Convallariaceae and, like many lilioid monocots, was formerly classified in the lily family, Liliaceae. The genus is distributed throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Most of the approximately 63 species occur in Asia, with 20 endemic to China.[4]


Polygonatum comes from the ancient Greek for "many knees", referring to the multiple jointed rhizome.[5] One explanation for the derivation of the common name "Solomon's seal" is that the roots bear depressions which resemble royal seals. Another is that the cut roots resemble Hebrew characters.[6]


The fruits are red or black berries. The berries are poisonous to humans.


Polygonatum humile
Fruit of Polygonatum odoratum
Polygonatum verticillatum


The following species are recognised in the genus Polygonatum:[7]



Several species are valued as ornamental plants, including:[9]


The berries are poisonous to humans.

Many species have long been used as food in China, such as Polygonatum sibiricum. Leaves, stems, and rhizomes are used raw or cooked and served as a side dish with meat and rice. The rhizomes of two local species are eaten with chicken's or pig's feet during festivals. The rhizomes are used to make tea or soaked in wine or liquor to flavor the beverages. They are also fried with sugar and honey to make sweet snacks. The starchy rhizomes can be dried, ground, and added to flour to supplement food staples. The rhizome of P. sibiricum is pulped, boiled, strained, and thickened with barley flour to make a sweet liquid seasoning agent called tangxi. At times, people in China have relied on P. megaphyllum as a famine food.[4]

The shoots of some Polygonatum can be boiled and used like asparagus. P. cirrifolium and P. verticillatum are used as leafy vegetables in India. The American species P. biflorum has a starchy root that was eaten like the potato and used as flour for bread.[4]

P. sibiricum is used for a tea called dungulle in Korea.[4]

Traditional medicine[edit]

The berries may be poisonous to humans.

The traditional use of Polygonatum in the treatment of diabetes was first observed in 1930 by Hedwig Langecker. After experiments, she concluded that it was effective in fighting nutritional hyperglycemia, though not that caused by adrenaline release, probably due to its glucokinin content.[10][full citation needed]

P. verticillatum is used in Ayurveda as an aphrodisiac.[11] It is also used to treat pain, fever, inflammation, allergy, and weakness.[12]

An herbal remedy called rhizoma polygonati is a mix of Polygonatum species used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is supposed to strengthen various organs and enhance the qi.[4] Polygonatum is believed to be restorative to mental vitality, especially when the mind has been overworked, overstressed, or is in a state of exhaustion.[13]

P. cyrtonema is a compound that is often used in Traditional Chinese Theory as a treatment for depression, which is thought to originate from problems in the liver and the kidney. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is considered by TCT to be a form of depression is also sometimes treated with P. cyrtonema. There is some evidence that P. cyrtonema can inhibit Post Traumatic Stress by regulating oxidative stress and inflammation associated with the NLRP3 gene.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Search for "Polygonatum", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2014-06-26
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. 606–607.
  3. ^ Chase, M. W.; Reveal, J. L. & Fay, M. F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x
  4. ^ a b c d e Wujisguleng, W., et al. (2012). Ethnobotanical review of food uses of Polygonatum (Convallariaceae) in China. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 81(4) 239-44.
  5. ^ Coombes, A. J. (2012). The A to Z of Plant Names. USA: Timber Press. pp. 312. ISBN 9781604691962.
  6. ^ Solomon's Seal. Botanical.com
  7. ^ "Polygonatum Mill. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  8. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 582. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  9. ^ RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  10. ^ Source:Quer, Pío Font "Plantas Medicinales - El Dioscórides renovado". 1961/2005 Barcelona: Ediciones Península, ISBN 9788483072424
  11. ^ Kasmi, I., et al. (2012). Aphrodisiac properties of Polygonatum verticillatum leaf extract. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease S841-45.
  12. ^ Khan, H., et al. (2011). Antinociceptive activity of aerial parts of Polygonatum verticillatum: Attenuation of both peripheral and central pain mediators. Phytotherapy Research 25(7) 1024-30.
  13. ^ Teeguarden, Ron (1 March 2000). The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs (1st ed.). Grand Central Publishing. p. 216. ISBN 978-0446675062.
  14. ^ Xie, Chen (2024). "Polysaccharides from Polygonatum cyrtonema Hua prevent post-traumatic stress disorder behaviors in mice: Mechanisms from the perspective of synaptic injury, oxidative stress, and neuroinflammation". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 319, 117165 (Pt 1). doi:10.1016/j.jep.2023.117165. PMID 37696440. S2CID 261674498.