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Solomon's Seal (polygonatum biflorum, multiflorum, odoratum, etc.) is a medicinal herb that has diverse healing properties. It can be used as a herbal tincture (best use), salve, tea or supplement. As an alternative medicine, it gives relief, healing or mending to sports injuries and other acute injuries related to tendons, joints, ligaments, bones, bruises, connecting tissues, cartilage, etc. It also soothes and repairs gastrointestinal inflammation and injuries. It is effective for feminine issues, such as menstrual cramps, PMS, bleeding, and the like. Additionally, it is known to lower blood pressure, relieve dry coughs, and to increase concentration and mental clarity.

Many gardeners and nature lovers, especially those who saunter through woodland settings, are very familiar with Solomon's Seal, both the true and false varieties. Those who live in the eastern and midwestern United States readily recognize true Solomon's Seal as a common native. False Solomon's Seal is easily identified for the native that it is in the western United States. Both varieties, however, can be introduced and expected to grow well in most North American settings. Enjoy this small gallery of images of both varieties, including descriptions of each.

Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum biflorum
Family: Ruscaceae
Genus: Polygonatum
Species: biflorum, multiflorum, odoratum, siberian, and more!

Synonym: Polygonatum canaliculatum;
Polygonatum commutatum; Polygonatum giganteum, and many more!

Solomon's Seal is a lovely woodland perennial with native varieties in North America, Asia and Europe. It is native to most of the eastern and midwestern United States. It can grow up to two feet tall. Unfortunately, some areas may consider the plant invasive and obnoxious.

The plant consists of a single stem with many broad, ovate leaves with parallel veination arranged alternately along the length of it and clasping the base. The plant often grows in a slight arc and the flowers dangle from the leaf axils beneath the arc of the stem. (This gives the plant its folk name "sow's teats").

The flowers are small, white to pale yellowish green and tubular and occur in drooping clusters of two to five.

Blooming begins in April and continues through midsummer. The berries appear as the flowers fade and resemble a hard blue-black pea.

Note: True Solomon's Seal berries are inedible and poisonous!

It thrives in light, well drained, moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade or in sun (preferring forests) with a cool root run.

Gardeners love it as an excellent border plant, or mixed with others, such as hosta.


Solomon's Seal is a very hardy plant. It prefers a light soil and a shady situation, being a native of woods. If in a suitable soil and situation and not crowded by shrubs, it will thrive and multiply very rapidly by the creeping rootstocks. It will be better for occasional liberal dressings of leafmould, or an annual top dressing of decayed manure in March.

Seeds, sown as soon as gathered in the autumn, germinate in early spring, or the roots may be divided to any extent. The best time to transplant or part the roots is in autumn, after the stalks decay, but it may safely be done at any time, if taken up with plenty of soil, until they begin to shoot in the spring, when the ground should be dug about them and kept clean from weeds. They should also have room to spread and must not be removed oftener than every third or fourth year.

To give Solomon's Seal a good start when planting, the soil should be well broken up with a fork and have a little mild manure worked in.

solomon's seal root

About the Root

The root is a rhizome and it is said that the circular scar left by the stem after it breaks away from the root resembles the seal of Solomon of Hebrew folklore. (Also known as the Star of David.)
You can estimate the plant's age by examining the rhizome. Each year the stem leaves a scar, or "seal" on the rhizome. Counting these will give you an idea of how long your plant has been alive.
(photo by Sapphire Kate)

false solomon's seal
False Solomon's Seal
(Maianthemum racemosum, aka Smilacina racemosum)

Also known as: False Solomon's Seal, Spikenard, Solomon's Plume, Feathery False Lily of the Valley. It is a member of the Lily family (Liliaceae)

This plant is often mistaken for true Solomon's Seal, but is easy to distinguish because of its feathery plume.

Gardeners love this easy-care plant for landscaping because it grows low (see wooded setting photo). It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. It is also drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping.

False Solomon's Seal loves to grow in wooded settings, or those with filtered sunlight. In the Western United States it is a native.

It blooms Spring thru Summer. In Fall the white blooms turn to red berries, a favorite food for birds. These berries are edible, but rather bitter.

The plant is called "false" because it is erroneously believed to have fewer medicinal properties of the true Solomon's Seal. True Solomon's Seal is preferred by herbalists.

false solomon' seal woods
false ss plume

Close-up of False Solomon's Seal

False Solomon's Seal's cream-colored plume grows in a sweeping arch that can be from one to three feet in length. The crooked stem with alternately growing ribbed lanceolate leaves makes the False Solomon's Seal easy to identify, even without its bloom or berries.

By looking closely at these False Solomon's Seal flowers, we can see the 3 sepals and 3 petals as a small starburst at the base of each flower. The 6 stamens are larger than the petals and have cone-shaped filaments with rounded anthers. The pistil is short and in the center.


By the end of summer, the False Solomon's Seal develops berries which turn bright red in early autumn.


false ss closeup
false ss berries




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