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Polygonatum biflorum (Walter) Elliott
Smooth Solomon's seal, Great Solomon's-seal, Sealwort
USDA Symbol: POBI2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
The zig-zag arching stalks are from 1-5 ft. long. Nodding, greenish-white, tubular flowers hang in pairs from the axils of the oval, conspicuously veined leaves. Hanging from the leaf axils on an arching stem are a few (often 2) greenish-white, bell-like flowers. Blue berries follow the flowers of this perennial. The root is rhizomatous but non-colonizing.
The graceful arching stems and pendulous flowers (often hidden) characterize this common plant. Another, almost identical species, Hairy Solomons Seal (P. pubescens), is distinguished by minute hairs along veins on undersides of leaves. A much larger variety of this species, Great Solomons Seal (P. biflorum var. commutatum), has larger flowers, 2-10 per cluster, and may be 7 (2.1 m) tall. The rootstalk, or rhizome, of the Solomons Seal is jointed; the leaf stalk breaks away from it, leaving a distinctive scar said to resemble the official seal of King Solomon. Native Americans and colonists used the starchy rhizomes as food.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Complexity: Simple Size Notes:
Usually 2 feet tall, but occasionally exceeds 3 feet. Leaf:
Bright yellow-green Flower:
Flowers 3/4 inch
Black, Blue A quarter inch to a half inch. Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Flowers typically pale green to white.
, WY Canada: MB
, QC Native Distribution:
Southern Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, south to FL
up the Connecticut R. valley, s. MI, MN,
& ND Native Habitat:
Rich, dry to moist woods; thickets; calcareous hammocks
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, rich, acid soils, though also occurs in calcareous areas. Prefers high humus. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Does best in rich woodland soil but quite versatile and will do well at the base of trees.
BenefitUse Ornamental: An understory plant used in eastern North America for its arching stems and attractive leaves.
Use Wildlife: Roots consumed by mammals. Fruits attract birds.
Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS / PREPARATION: Young shoots can be boiled for 10 minutes and served like asparagus. Whole shoots can be cut up and put into salads. The rootstocks can be added to stew or boiled for 20 minutes and eaten like potatoes. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
First Nations People and colonists used the starchy rhizomes as food. (Niering)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Berries. Only low toxicity if ingested. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea. Toxic Principle: Anthraquinone.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Root Cuttings , Seeds Description:
Plant seeds immediately or treatment will be necessary. Rhizome
cuttings will grow but may lie dormant a whole year. Divide the rhizomes in spring or fall when the plants are dormant. Set them horizontally, buds up, 18 in. apart and 1 in. deep. Seed Collection:
Collect in Sept. Seed Treatment:
Cold-moist stratify for 2 months at 40 degrees. Commercially Avail:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff