As part of my herbalist apprenticeship, my mentor encouraged me to do a backyard plant inventory — what weeds were actually medicinal plants gone wild. Solomon’s Seal is a beautiful erect plant that first sprouts in the spring and spills lovely near hidden white blossoms from the underside of its curved stem. I just assumed it had been planted by the previous owner.
Once I looked it up I realized it was a native plant that had most likely been transplanted by birds to our yard. Immediately I researched (and found) copious amounts of information about it… well, not it exactly, about another variety of Solomon’s Seal native to China and used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. But reading between the lines of historical accounts, it seems indigenous peoples have used our native Solomon’s Seal in a similar fashion as well as for food (with special preparation so as to no upset your stomach and induce vomiting it should be noted). It also has a look alike, False Solomon’s Seal – equally beautiful, but used differently. The way you tell the difference is there are no blossoms on the underside of the stem, but just a little tuff at the very tip.
Not sure of my approach I spent several mornings drawing and painting this particular stand of Solomon’s Seal before embarking on this finished work. It was this experience that inspired the rest of the series. What started as an impulse to explore a single plant in the morning light — really as a way to reconnect with myself and my sketchbook — grew into so much more than just a single plant or a single week or a single sketchbook page.
About Solomon’s Seal
Polygonatum multiflorum is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae.
Other Common Names
Polygonatum multiflorum is commonly known as Solomon’s seal, David’s harp, ladder-to-heaven, or Eurasian Solomon’s seal.
Solomon’s seal is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to Europe and temperate Asia.
“Solomon’s Seal is named for King Solomon of Hebrew lore who was granted great wisdom by the Hebrew God and had a special seal that aided him in his magical workings, allowing him to command demons without coming to harm.
According to herbal lore, King Solomon, himself placed his seal upon this plant when he recognized its great value. Those with imagination can see the seal on the root stock in the circular scars left by the stem after it dies back.
Solomon’s Seal has also been traditionally used to “seal” wounds.”
Source: Witchipedian, The. “Solomon’s Seal.” The Witchipedia, 18 Nov. 2019, witchipedia.com/book-of-shadows/herblore/solomons-seal/.
Medicinal/edible: “Solomon’s seal has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine. It is used mainly in the form of a poultice and is believed to prevent excessive bruising and to stimulate tissue repair. The root is astringent, demulcent, emetic and tonic. An infusion is healing and restorative, it is good in the treatment of stomach inflammations, chronic dysentery etc. It is used with other herbs in the treatment of pulmonary problems, including tuberculosis, and women’s complaints. The powdered roots make an excellent poultice for bruises, piles, inflammation etc. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The plant should not be used internally except under professional supervision. A distilled water made from the whole plant has been used as a skin tonic and is an ingredient of expensive cosmetics. The dried powdered roots and flowers have been used as a snuff to promote sneezing and thus clear the bronchial passages.
Regarding the edible use of Solomon’s seal, the young shoots can be cooked and boiled and used as an asparagus substitute. They make an excellent vegetable and are widely used in Turkey. The root can be cooked as well and is very rich in starch. The root should be macerated for some time in water in order to remove bitter substances. Normally only used in times of famine, the root was powdered and then made into a bread by the North American Indians.”
Source: “Medicinal Herbs: Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum Multiflorum).” Medicinal Herbs: SOLOMON’S SEAL – Polygonatum Multiflorum, http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/polygonatum-multiflorum=solomon’s-seal.php.
“Solomon’s seal plants are native to woodland areas, so they prefer to grow in a spot with some shade and dampness. Solomon’s seal plants are naturally found growing under large shade trees in dappled light. Healthy Solomon’s seal plants growing in optimal conditions have few problems with pests and diseases. If the weather is extremely damp, there might be signs of a fungal disease, which can appear as discoloration on the foliage. Slugs and snails can also become a problem, so watch out for holes in the leaves and stems. There are several natural methods that can combat these pest problems.”
Source: Iannotti, Marie. “How to Grow and Care for Solomon’s Seal.” The Spruce, http://www.thespruce.com/solomons-seal-1402856.
Learn more about the entire Backyard Botanical Collection by visiting the collection’s gallery page. Visit the online gallery to see originals and prints available.
Thank you for visiting and spending time learning about the botanicals in my backyard. May this bring you a deeper understanding and joy in your own ecology.