Polygonatum multiflorum x odoratum Polygonatum multiflorum x odoratum

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Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum multiflorum

  • Name also: Common Solomon’s-seal, David’s-harp, Ladder-to-heaven, Eurasian Solomon’s Seal (Canada)
  • Family: Asparagus Family – Asparagaceae
    (formerly Lily of the Valley Family – Convallariaceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock sturdy, branched.
  • Height: 30–80 cm (12–32 in.). Stem unbranched, arching, erect from base, round, glossy.
  • Flower: Perianth campanulate–tubular, white–greenish, 9–20 mm (0.36–0.8 in.) long, fused, 6-lobed, slightly constricted in middle. Stamens 6. Pistil of 3 fused carpels. Flowers axillary in groups of 2–5, nodding, quite long-stalked, fragrant.
  • Leaves: Alternate, in 2 rows, stalkless. Blade elongated–ovately elliptic, with entire margins, parallel-veined, crinkled, dark green. Base sheathed.
  • Fruit: Bluish black berry.
  • Habitat: Broad-leaved forests, coppices, seaside alder groves.
  • Flowering time: June.

Solomon’s seal is a much rarer and more demanding plant than its more common relative angular Solomon’s seal (P. odoratum). The species are sometimes difficult to distinguish as they look quite similar. Solomon’s seal grows in rich soil in broad-leaved forests and is like a grander version of angular Solomon’s seal. Its leaves are beautiful in two rows, and on angular Solomon’s seal they are often almost erect, forming a coherent double row. If it is growing in a bad place Solomon’s seal can look like angular Solomon’s seal, and the reverse is also true if angular Solomon’s seal is growing in a good place. If it is difficult to differentiate the species then good things to compare are the roundness of the base of the stem, the amount of flowers and the form of the corolla. Solomon’s seal has between two and five fragranceless flowers in each flowering axil while angular Solomon’s seal’s flowers are usually solitary or in pairs on the lower part of the stem. Solomon’s seal does not usually produce much fruit, but its bluish black berries can be tempting. Poisoning is relatively rare, but in the worst cases it can be life-threatening.

Solomon’s seal is only common in Finland in the broad-leaved forests, shoreside forests and coppices of the county’s southern oak zone. Its habitat stretches from the eastern border along the Baltic Sea as far as Merikarvia, just north of Pori on the west coast, and along the River Kokemäenjoki to Nokia and Hämeenlinna. The most impressive stands can be found among hardwood trees on the Åland Islands, and among alder groves at the mouth of the River Kokemäenjoki near Pori.

Garden Solomon’s Seal

Polygonatum multiflorum x odoratum (Polygonatum x hybridum)

Solomon’s seal and angular Solomon’s seal are such close relatives that they can cross-breed. The hybrid that is produced is an ornamental that is sold in garden shops as one of its parent plants. Hybrids are sterile and so unable to propagate themselves – otherwise the parent plants would be unable to remain separate.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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