Polygonatum, the ancient name; composed of polus, many, and gonu, knee; alluding to the numerous joints of the rootstock.
Perennial. Rich woods and shaded hillsides. New Brunswick, Ontario, and Minnesota, southward to the Carolinas, west to Kansas and Nebraska. Abundant in northern Ohio. April-June.
Horizontal, thick, jointed, plainly showing the growth of each year.
Simple, one to three feet high, smooth, leafy, curving.
Alternate, oblong, pointed, nearly sessile or half-clasping, parallel-veined, two to four inches long.
Yellowish green bells, in pairs along the stem from the axils of the leaves.
A six-lobed tube, lobes acute, not spreading.
Six, inserted on the perianth tube; anthers introrse.
One; ovary three-celled; stigma obscurely three-lobed.
Berry the size of a pea; dark blue or nearly black, with a bloom.
Pollinated by flies and bees.
Solomon's-Seal is an extremely pretty and graceful plant, growing in company with Smilicina in woods and thickets. From a many-jointed, thick rootstock a single, graceful, curved stem arises each spring and bears a row of green flower-bells, nodding in pairs at
Polygonatum biflorum the axil of the leaves, looking like a row of tassels. After fruiting this stem withers away, leaving a round scar on the rootstock whose outlines suggested to the fanciful man who named the genus the seal of Israel's king. One may know the age of a root by its scars, as the age of a tree by its rings. The fruit at first is a green berry with a whitish bloom; finally it becomes pulpy, blue-black in color, and about the size of a pea. Great Solomon's-Seal, Polygonatum giganteum, with much the same range as biflorum; grows in moist woods and along shaded streams. Normally, it is a much taller plant but very similar in general appearance.