Perennial growing to about 20 in (50 cm). Has arching stems, alternate elliptical leaves, delicate greenish-white, bell-shaped flowers, and blue-black fruit.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe and to temperate regions of Asia and North America, Solomon’s seal is quite rare in the wild. However, it is a common ornamental garden plant. The rhizome is unearthed in autumn.
Solomon’s seal contains steroidal saponins (similar to diosgenin), flavonoids, and vitamin A.
History & Folklore
Solomon’s seal has been used in Western herbal medicine since classical times. In China, the herb’s first recorded use stretches back to the Divine Husbandman’s Classic (Shen’nong Bencaojing) of the 1st century CE. In North America, the species P. biflorum was known to various native tribes. The Penobscot used Solomon’s seal as part of a formula for treating gonorrhea.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Like arnica (Arnica montana), Solomon’s seal is believed to prevent excessive bruising and to stimulate tissue repair. The rhizome, which is mainly used in the form of a poultice, has astringent and demulcent actions that undoubtedly contribute to its ability to accelerate healing.
Solomon’s seal has also been recommended for tuberculosis, as a remedy for menstrual problems, and as a tonic. In Chinese herbal medicine, it is considered a yin tonic, and is thought to be particularly applicable to respiratory system problems—sore throats, dry and irritable coughs, bronchial congestion, and chest pain.
Angular or scented Solomon’s seal (P. odoratum) is used in much the same way as P. multiflorum.
Do not take internally except under professional advice. The aerial parts, especially the berries, are harmful if eaten.