I think it’s time for a new series called Nostalgic Plants of Childhood, starting with Solomon’s Seal. As a youngster growing up in Boone, I’d always see this plant when I was hiking in the woods. I loved its gently curving leaves and tiny clusters of white, tubular-shaped flowers. Thinking it was a mountain plant, I was surprised and delighted when some shoots sprouted up in our Durham backyard a few years ago. Since then it’s returned every spring in all its beautiful glory.
A relative of the lily, Solomon’s seal is the name for almost 50 species in the genus Polygonatum. The kind I’m referring to is commonly known as “True Solomon’s Seal” (Polygonatum biflorum) not to be confused with False Solomon’s Seal.
The young shoots are edible and taste like asparagus when boiled. Unfortunately, the rhizomes only seem to grow about an inch or two a year, which means at this point it’s not really practical for us to harvest it. Too bad we don’t have it covering the backyard, like the huge patch we saw on Mt. Jefferson in Ashe County last summer. I’m definitely going to let it keep growing. It seems that our woody, shaded backyard is an ideal environment for it.
Looking online, I was also surpised that there seems to be a whole cottage industry associated with this plant. There is even a website, http://www.solomonsseal.net, that sells Solomon’s Seal for medicinal purposes. For hundreds of years people have used the root to make herbal teas and liniments. The alleged benefits of the root are numerous:
- Heals bruises, wounds and rashes
- Reduces inflammations in joints and tendons
- Reduces blood pressure
- Loosens mucous in lungs
- Prevents premature ejaculation
- Relieves premenstrual syndrome
- Hastens recovery from bone injuries
According to one source, the plant gets its name from King Solomon, who proclaimed that the plant was a gift from God.
It’s just a plant that is too beautiful for us to harvest.