Polygonatum - Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum - Solomon's Seal

By Published April 15, 2016 Updated September 26, 2022

Polygoantum, also know as Solomon's seal, is a graceful flowering perennial for the woodland shade garden whose arching stems adds a pleasing visual presence. Polygonatum stems are lined at regular intervals with leaves positioned into regularly spaced ranks and oriented into a single plane, making them look almost man made. The botanical name polygonatum actually means "many knees" in ancient Greek and refers to the multi-jointed rhizome. Some polygonatum species are American native plants, but most of the 60+ species hail from temperate Asia.

Solomon's seal was previously classified in the lily family but are now considered a member of the asparagus family and are a cousin of agaves and hostas. In the shade garden, solomon's seal will slowly form dense colonies of deciduous stems. The spring-blooming bell-like flowers are followed by attractive blue/black fruit in the fall. While most solomon's seal flowers are white, polygonatums are also rarely available in pink, orange, and purple flowers.

Many species of Solomon's seal have been used as a food source and, at times, have been relied on as a famine food in parts of China. The leaves, stems, and rhizomes of some varieties can be utilized cooked or raw in Chinese cuisine and is often used as a side with pig's feet or chicken's feet. The rhizomes are also used to make tea or as a flavor additive for wine and liqour. The shoots can also be boiled and eaten similar to aspargus.

Solomon's seal also has a history of being used in traditional Chinese medicine and is believed to restore mental vigor. In the 1930's, German pharmacologist Hedwig Langecker discovered that Polygonatum officinale and Polygonatum multiflorum were effective in fighting nutritional hyperglycemia due to its glucokinin content.

Solomon's seals range in height from 6" tall to over 7' tall. Polygonatums are durable, easy-to-grow woodland plants that thrive well when grown among companions like hardy ferns, hosta, ophiopogon, farfugium and pulmonaria. Plant Delights Nursery has one of the largest Solomon's seal collections in the country, so when you're ready to buy Solomon's seal for your woodland garden, we hope you will check out our list of plants on-line for sale.

To learn more about this amazing woodland perennial and to see some of the amazing varieties of polygonatum currently being grown at Plant Delights and Juniper Level Botanic Garden, checkout our video Gardening Unplugged: Solomon's Seal in the Garden with Tony Avent.

Back to articles