Solomon’s Seal

Polygonatum biflorum


Photo of Solomon’s seal flowers and leaves
Patricia M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International,

Liliaceae (lilies)


An herbaceous perennial growing from rhizomes, with arching stems and a series of 10-25 alternate, oval or elliptical leaves. Flowers on short floral stalks (peduncles) growing out of the leaf axils, each with 1–3 small, tubular, greenish-white flowers about 3/4 inch long, which hang like bells. Blooms May–June. Leaves sessile, broadly elliptical, to 6 inches long, with prominent parallel veins on the undersurface. Fruit a dark blue to black, many-seeded berry. Roots rhizomes, with many circular scars from the stalks of former years. The plant is named “Solomon’s seal” because the scars on the rhizomes look like the marks of an old-fashioned wax seal made by a ring, and several legends about King Solomon revolved around the magical properties of his seal.


Stem lengh: to nearly 5 feet, but usually about 3 feet.

Habitat and conservation

Occurs in rich or rocky bottomland and upland forests in valleys and ravines; also along streambanks, roadsides, and railroads. It is also common to find Solomon's seal and related species in garden centers and in landscape plantings.

image of Solomon’s Seal distribution map
Distribution in Missouri



Using new technology, botanists are using molecular (DNA) characteristics to provide new insights into the relationships among plant groups, and recently they've been dividing several large plant families into new, smaller, separate families. Solomon's seal, in the newer classification system, is being placed in the Asparagaceae, the asparagus family, or the Ruscaceae, the butcher's broom family. The plants of these new families are all former members of the Liliaceae (lily family).

Human connections

This native plant is excellent in woodland, wildflower, and partial-shade gardens. Although most believe the name came from the seal-like scars on the roots, it could have come from old medicinal uses of the plant, for many of the King Solomon legends involve miracles of healing.

Ecosystem connections

Bees, and probably hummingbirds too, are drawn to the flowers' nectar. Mammals, including deer, eat the foliage.