Simply The Best Natives-Solomon’s Seal

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“Believe one who knows: you will find something greater in woods than in books.  Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”  ~Saint Bernard de Clairvaux

 

 

 

As I dream about my garden in late February, I am anticipating the first flowers of spring.  And wondering what wonderful native plants will be showing up in a big way.  I have tried to grow the plant shown here, Polygonatum biflorum, and was successful two years ago.  If these plants come back in year three, I hope they will be growing up and out in a big way too. 

DSCN4142Also known as Smooth Solomon’s seal, Great Solomon’s-seal, Solomon’s seal and Sealwort, Polygonia biflorum is native to a large area of North America and is a member of the Lily Family (Liliaceae). You can find it  growing in dry to moist woods and thickets, in sandy, loamy or rocky soils from Nova Scotia south to Florida and over to Texas and northern Mexico.  You can also find it growing across the northern US and southern Canadian border west, all the way to Minnesota and North Dakota.   

The arching stalks grow from 1-5 ft. long with nodding, greenish-white, tubular flowers appearing in May.  They hang in pairs, and often are hidden by the foliage. The flowers open to resemble bells, and eventually turn into small blue berries. 

The name Polygonatum comes from the Greek, “poly” meaning many, and “gony” meaning knees referring to the many jointed rhizome.  And biflorum is from the Latin “biflorus” meaning two flowers referring to the pair of flowers.

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As I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out their Spring 2016 catalog.

 

 

 

Growing Conditions

Solomon’s seal grows in part shade to full shade in dry to moist soil.  It will tolerate a variety of soils from sandy to loamy to clay.  It will grow especially well at the base of trees, which makes me want to include many of these in my White Garden once I redesign it.DSCN3788

It is hardy in zones 3-9, and will take at least 2 years to get established, growing in slow spreading stands.  I am hoping mine colonizes the area around the back of our air conditioning unit where I have my deep shade garden.

You can propagate this plant by seed or root cuttings.  I planted mine from cuttings.  Be forewarned that they could take a year before you see any growth from the root cuttings.  Be sure to plant the cuttings horizontally with the buds up.  You can divide the rhizomes in spring and fall to spread around your garden. 

 

 

 

Benefits to Wildlife 

DSCN3940The flowers are said to attract hummingbirds, pollinators and butterflies.  I hope to see these critters visiting my Solomon’s seal this spring.

The blue berries are eaten by birds and small mammals.  I think the mice and voles may have eaten the berries on my small plants.

Foliage also provides cover for wildlife.  I find frogs hanging out in my shade garden among the foliage.

Mammals also like to eat the roots of this plant.

 

 

 

Uses

This plant is wonderful in shade or woodland gardens as the arching stems and beautiful foliage add great form and interest.  And the foliage is wonderful to use in a vase from summer and through fall DSCN4146when it turns golden.

Solomon’s seal is a close relative to the Lily-of-the-Valley, and I love how each of these plants nods its flowers in the garden.

Solomon’s seal can be used as a groundcover especially in shady areas and on shady slopes.

This plant can be eaten like asparagus by boiling the young shoots for 10 minutes.  Or cut up the whole shoot and put it in salads.  If you boil the rootstocks, they can be eaten like potatoes.  Word of warning, always be cautious about eating wild plants.  The berries of this plant are poisonous. 

 

 

 

Folklore and Tales 

DSCN3789Native Americans and early colonists used the starchy roots as food to make breads and soups.

Solomon’s seal was also used for medicinal purposes. The rhizome was used as a sedative, and to treat gout,  gastrointestinal issues and rheumatism as well as other anti-inflammatory ailments. It has a dozen or so medicinal uses, and is listed in the Handbook of Medicinal Herbs.  

One explanation for the common name, Solomon’s seal, is that the roots have depressions that resemble the ancient Hebrew seal of King Solomon. 

 

 

 

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Do you have a favorite perennial shade plant?  What is your favorite native shade plant?

  

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In A Vase On Monday

  

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 I December, I cut many different and interesting dried plants and seedheads in hopes of using them in winter vases.  I combined many different ones to make this arrangement in a bowl vase.  

 

 

 

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I loved how they looked silhouetted against the bright gray day outside.  That is a Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) seedhead in the center picture.  I saved several this year as I love their shape.  

 

 

 

dried elements collage

There is the wispy Goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus), black Baptisia australis seed pods, Miscanthus grass twisty and brown in the bottom picture.  And nodding Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) mixing perfectly in the top picture.  I placed the bowl in an old Japanese ceramic dish my Aunt Mary gave me years ago.  I really love this dried vase combining so many wonderful elements found out in my winter garden now.

 I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

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Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, I will have my kick-off post for the spring Seasonal Celebrations. 

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday. 

 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2016.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

92 comments

  1. Christina says:

    What a fun vase you’ve created Donna, dried grasses are so beautiful whether in the garden or in a vase. I’m about to cut mine back in the garden as I can already see new growth. Have a lovely week.

    • Donna says:

      Oh that is wonderful to start seeing growth…I look forward to the melting snow, and rain to stop so I can get out in my sodden garden.

  2. rusty duck says:

    I’m a bit worried about my Solomon’s Seal this year. There is a huge patch of it on the edge of the woodland but last autumn’s tree felling has made a big difference to the area where they are.. it might now not be shady enough. We shall see. I may be doing some emergency replanting come Spring!

    • Donna says:

      Oh I have had that happen with shade plants once trees go down….thankfully most have done fine. I hope your Solomon’s Seal is OK Jessica.

  3. riitta k says:

    What a fantastic and informative post! I did not know the name Solomon’s Seal… In my garden I have 2; Polygonatum hybridum and. P. multiflorum. They are really beautiful with their high stems and leaves. As shade plants I like also different hostas.

  4. Susie says:

    Drying elements from your garden is a great way to enjoy their essence. Your Baptista seed pods caught my eye. Mine never seem to last very well but they have such a nice form. Interesting to read about Soloman’s Seal Someone gave me one a couple of years ago and I thought it hadn’t lived, but perhaps it will show up this spring. Have a good week Donna.

    • Donna says:

      Absolutely drying elements is great Susie especially as my garden fades fast. I hope your Solomon’s Seal shows up this spring for you?

  5. Island Threads says:

    Donna another lovely informative post, you have some nice photos of your plant, I planted Polygonatum x hybridum (multiflorum) last spring and I too will be hoping it will come through winter, thanks for the propagation info, Frances

  6. Eileen says:

    Hello, what a lovely plant. Thank you for sharing the information. I hope your Soloman’s Seal come back this year. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  7. Cathy says:

    What a lot of intriguing information about Solomon’s Seal – it wouldn’t have occurred to me that parts of it were edible! Mine is affected by sawfly almost every year which rapidly destroys the leaves and I am considering taking it out which is a shame as it look so attractive when it is healthy. You showed foresight picking material in anticipation of winter vases – and it has paid off. The silhouette is an especially successful photo – beautiful! Certainly shows the value of seedpods and grasses – thanks for sharing it with us.

  8. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    What a beautiful write up about Solomon’s Seal Donna … I, for some reason, want to order more native plants from Amanda’s! I never knew Solomon’s Seal is edible! What a wonderful surprise. I can’t wait for Spring, to return home to the garden and connect with the earth (even though I so love it here). This beautiful plant is a contender for our lake property! Thank you Donna.

  9. Susan Link The Northern New York Gardener says:

    I have Solomon’s Seal that I received from a friend and it is doing wonderful. Like you said, it is slow to get established, and I have found it to be a very slow growing plant. It does not seem to be invasive which I like too. I also have the verigated Solomon’s Seal and that doesn’t grow as tall as the regular one. Also, very slow to get established and spread out.
    I also like the fact that it adds height to the shady perennial garden. Good information and thanks for sharing.

  10. Noelle says:

    What a great article on Solomon’s Seal…I admire that plant, and it also grows wild in the UK…I myself have tried this plant but after I buy it is eaten to the ground by sawfly! I therefore admire your particularly. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Beth @ PlantPostings says:

    Hi Donna: This plant grows wild in my woodland and has even spread to some of my more formal beds. I need to transplant some, they are so plentiful. I didn’t realize that the hummingbirds like them, but that makes sense! Nice post. 🙂

  12. Kris P says:

    I grew Solomon’s Seal in my former garden but my Western garden guide indicates I shouldn’t try to push my zone that far again, especially while we’re in a drought. Oh well! My favorite plant for dry shade is Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily), and I expect you’ll see some of these in my vase posts in late spring as they propagate easily and I now have LOTS of them. Your dried plants vase is lovely – I especially like those sea oats.

  13. Sallie (FullTime-Life) says:

    Our daughter loves dried grasses and they grow different kinds on their acreage … Your post made me think of her and miss her (she’s in Oregon where we spend half the year, but not this half!)

    The Solomon Seal is a lovely plant.

  14. Diana Studer says:

    I am torn between the delicate green bells and the dramatic silhouettes.

    One of my vases has a quiet bunch of assorted fynbos, left to dry in an empty vase once the color faded – so I can enjoy just the monochrome shapes.

    A shady plant? Pot of Streptocarpus, altho I battle to find enough shade for it to be really happy.

  15. rickii says:

    My patch of Solomon’s seal is bulking up nicely. I hope to even spare a few stems for a vase this year. Nice to get all of this background info.

  16. eliza waters says:

    Nice dried arrangement. Good for you to plan ahead for winter vases. I only managed to save some hydrangea and the lunaria, which I’ve shown before.

    Like you, I am looking forward to seeing my spring shade garden. I have a couple clumps of solomon’s seal, too. It’s tough to pick a favorite plant in that bed, there are so many I like. Hellebore, ferns, columbine, ginger (European and American), epimedium, and huecherella to name a few! I doubled the size of it last year and added a few shrubs as well. It always looks its best in the spring.

  17. Hannah says:

    Here I don’t have Solomon’s Seal, Donna, unless I bought one and forgot, but I have native False Solomon’s Seal, a really lovely plant with sprays of tiny super fragrant flowers. I have to protect them from deer in some locations. I like your dried arrangement, I like to make those too. The Sea Oats are a favorite in other people’s arrangements, I have not succeeded in growing them myself. I like the misty, sparkly, pink at the base of the stems. Maybe that is the Japanese dish.

  18. Leora says:

    You got me started looking around for sources of why Solomon’s Seal has that name. One website implied that it was a powerful healer in a similar way that the Seal of Solomon carried magical powers. It’s a pretty shade plant. I do like bleeding hearts – I grew one once, then when it died back, maybe I dug it up along with some weeds by mistake? I didn’t try again (it was my second attempt).

  19. Judith@Lavender Cottage says:

    I have found my Solomon’s seal to travel quite quickly in a shady garden Donna but must admit, it’s easy to pull out the unwanted stems and pot them for our plant sale. The bees like the flowers but I’ve never seen hummingbirds around them.

  20. Cathy says:

    If I had more shady spots I should like to grow Solomon’s Seal too. I love the foliage as much as the flowers. Lovely photos Donna. Your arrnagement this week is so much more than a simple vase, but more a feature for reflection, reminding you of the plants in another season and what is to come again this year. Have a good week Donna!

  21. Aaron Dalton says:

    I think I have false Solomon’s seal in my garden (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maianthemum_racemosum).

    It soldiers on from year to year, but has not grown all that well and usually fades away by midsummer. I don’t think I have enough shade for it.

    But the Solomon’s seal in your photos looks beautiful!

    And what a clever idea to use H. moscheutos seedpods in a vase. I never would have thought of that, but perhaps I’ll copy you next year 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Yes this Solomon’s seal is a beauty Aaron….if you do get enough shade, it is worth a try….and absolutely use those dried seedpods of the hardy hibiscus. They really are quite unique.

  22. Nadezda says:

    I love this plant Donna but when I wanted to plant it I was said Polygonia is poisonous and I decided to postpone the planting. I love its flowers and often see wild Polygonia in the woods.

  23. Beth says:

    Donna, thanks for the info about Solomon’s Seal — I have one that somehow ended up in my gardens (perhaps growing on a donated hosta) and I’m always fascinated with the way it looks when flowering. Hope your spring is early and warm! -Beth

  24. Ramblingwoods says:

    Hmmmm…I want to plant along the deck where the lilacs and hostas are but it is in full shade… Would this tolerate full shade? as it is beautiful… I see what I think are daffodils coming up.. that doesn’t bode well for them does it?..Michelle

    • Donna says:

      This plant loves full shade Michelle. Your daffs should be fine as long as they are not blooming this early. We still have snow and cold so I don’t think mine will do much growing.

  25. gail eichelberger says:

    Wonderful plant! I can’t imagine digging it up to eat even though it’s edible. I would love to have more than the few plants that are in my garden. Hoping they’ll be for sale at a wildflower fair this spring.

  26. Angela Robertson says:

    I love this plant! In an ideal world I’d have a huge garden, with an even bigger pond surrounded by Solomon’s seal and admire the reflections in the water all day. I should be so lucky! A girl is allowed to dream is she not.

  27. debsgarden says:

    This plant does well in the Deep South as well as more northern areas. Solomon’s Seal grows well in my woodland garden, and I love it. I have a variegated form, as well as a dwarf variety. I think its tiny dangling blooms are charming!

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