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] Fruit is a ¼ inch round 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 spp), and Twisted Stalk (Streptopus spp) 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. False Solomon's Seal leaves are more narrow and the flower cluster is at the tip of the stem. Twisted Stalk flowers and fruits are all single in the leaf axils and stems may be branched, where Smooth Solomon's Seal is unbranched. Young, non-flowering plants may resemble some Lady's-slipper orchids (Cypripedium spp), most of which have at least some hairs on leaves or stems.

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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 Solomon's Seal as a "potato-like food" used to make breads and soups. The young shoots are also edible, raw or boiled for an asparagus-like food.[3] Solomon's 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] Solomon's 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?] Solomon's 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.

Posted by: Kelly D. R - Woodbury Minnesota
on: 2017-09-01 00:17:03

I found two colonies of what I believe to be great, or giant Solomon's Seal. The discription for smooth Solomon's Seal describes these gorgeous plants perfectly, except they're very tall and robust. I've harvested about a dozen berries to plant in other areas and would appreciate it greatly if you can give me tips on growing Solomon's Seal from seed. I don't want to dig up the risomes even to plant elsewhere because I've not seen much of it growing in my area. Thank you very much for taking time to read this, and thanks for the information.

Posted by: Gilbert W - Cook Cty/North Shore
on: 2018-06-03 13:17:22

Solomon's Seal grows here in maple and spruce/balsam forest. I first found it while picking chanterelles in the latter. But would it be the same Giant SS species? Not as large stems or roots. I transplanted some to my garden to see if the difference is due to microclimate and sun. A result of herbalist Matthew Wood's publications, SS has become popular herbal medicine and dried root sells for over $50 a lb at Mtn Rose Herbs.

Posted by: Brenda Pittman - West of Faribault - Rice Cty
on: 2018-06-15 08:13:53

Excited to find it in our windbreak - have never seen it before so the birds must have carried inseed.

Posted by: Anne - Silver Lake
on: 2019-06-17 04:26:05

I have a bunch of this growing on my farm. I thought it was a weed and was going to dig it out, then went on an herb walk and learned more about it and will keep it around!

Posted by: Kathy & Doug Wood - Stearns county north of Sartell in our woods along the Missi
on: 2020-02-13 03:16:13

Love these giants. So do the deer:(

Posted by: Katherine Nelson - Finland
on: 2022-05-22 16:09:17

Is there a variegated wild Solomon seal found in Minnesota?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-05-22 18:50:30

Katherine, there is no wild type of Solomon's seal with variegated leaves.

Posted by: Calvin Utrex - Winona
on: 2023-06-01 07:42:44

My wife has a latge flower garden that we spent the last seven years wresting from buckthorn, garlic mustard, creeping charlie, goutweed, squill, and nearly every other nnis found in this area. Although most of her flowers are "domestic", we culture patches of natiVes when we find them. We have a number of patches of smooth Solomon's seal that are thriving quite well now. Although the flowers do not seem very showy, the bumblebees find them quite attractive right now.

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