Polygonatum biflorum (Smooth Solomon's Seal)

Plant Info
Also known as: Giant Solomon's Seal
Genus:Polygonatum
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] 2 to 10 hanging, stalked flowers arising from most leaf axils. Each bell-shaped flower is ½ to 1 inch long and pale yellowish green with 6 short, flaring lobes. Stamens and styles are hidden inside the tube. The flowers are typically hidden under the leaves and may go unseen.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are oval, toothless and hairless, 2 to 6 inches long and up to 3 inches wide with a pointed tip. The base of the leaf clasps the stem. Each leaf has several prominent parallel veins. The stem is unbranched, hairless, erect in the lower plant and arching as if top-heavy, and zig-zags some between the alternately attached leaves.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Each flower is replaced by a ¼ inch berry that ripens from green to blue-black in late summer.

Notes:

Just looking at the leaves, Smooth Solomon's Seal, Hairy Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum pubescens), False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum), and Starry False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum) are all similar. Hairy Solomon's Seal has fine, short hairs along the veins on the leaf underside where Smooth Solomon's Seal leaves are hairless. Starry False Solomon's Seal prefers sunnier habitats and its leaves are more narrow, often fold up some lengthwise and the flower cluster is at the tip of the stem. The leaves of False Solomon's Seal do not clasp the stem and its flowers are also at the tip of the stem. Formerly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, the Polygonatum species have been reassigned to Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: CarolAnn H
on: 2009-07-13 07:08:28

I have oodles of this plant in my backyard in Burnsville. I was initially removing it but I'm delighted to find out it's a native since it appears to be popping up all over my woodland garden area.

Posted by: Julie - Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
on: 2010-05-14 10:46:21

I lead an annual Mother's Day Wildflower Walk at Forestville State Park. I include Solomon's Seal every year. We usually see about 20-25 different wildflowers on the walk.

Posted by: Lexi - Sherburne County
on: 2011-06-23 13:15:29

I found bunches of these under some bushes in my yard. The ones I found are more green than the ones in the picture above.

Posted by: Nick - st paul
on: 2013-06-11 15:56:40

anyone have giant solomon's seals, please email me...I want to buy some and plant them in my garden. Thanks.

Posted by: Britt - Grand Marais
on: 2014-07-22 10:44:26

I have these in the woods near my house. The berries are bright red like a cherry. Other than that they mostly match the description.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-07-22 11:15:50

Britt, the bright red berries may indicate a different species, perhaps rose twisted-stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus), which has very similar leaves as well as small flowers that dangle below.

Posted by: Jane - rural Inver Grove Heights, Dakota County
on: 2014-09-11 15:40:46

When is a good time to move Solomon's Seal plants? I found many in May but they may have gone dormant since. Thanks!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-09-11 16:07:28

Jane, you should be able to move dormant plants any time until the ground freezes. Fall is generally a good time for planting many species.

Posted by: Tia - Willow River MN/Northern Pine County
on: 2016-05-01 18:00:36

Have found many, many patches of this plant under the canopy on our acreage. From Wikipedia: Historically, the Native Americans consumed the starch-rich rhizomes of Solomonís Seal as a ďpotato-like foodĒ used to make breads and soups. The young shoots are also edible, raw or boiled for an asparagus-like food.[3] Solomonís seal was not only consumed for sustenance, but also for its medicinal properties. For example, the rhizome was used in making a tonic for gout and rheumatism.[4] Solomonís Seal is listed today in the Handbook of Medicinal Herbs as having nearly a dozen medicinal uses including as an anti-inflammatory, sedative, and tonic.[5][unreliable medical source?] Solomonís Seal is not used in large-scale agriculture.

Posted by: Jane - St. Paul
on: 2016-05-03 14:25:39

I have an abundance of these in my back yard.

Posted by: Leah B - Ramsey
on: 2017-06-16 21:51:30

I have them growing under my cedar trees. I'm glad to learn that they are a native plant. I will let them alone.

Posted by: John H - Mound
on: 2017-06-22 22:46:16

I have large patches of solomone seal at the base of my basswood tree and they pop up all over the yard.

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