Perennial native herb
found growing in moist sandy, loamy or rocky woods and thickets, N. America from New
Brunswick to Michigan, south to Tennessee and Florida. Cultivation: a very hardy plant, it
prefers a light soil and a shady situation. Seeds, or transplants, if taken up with plenty
of soil. The creeping root, rhizome, or underground stem, is thick and white, twisted and
full of knots, with large circular scars at intervals, these scars give Solomon's Seal
it's name. Stems grow to a height of from 18 inches to 2 feet, or even more and bend over
gracefully. Large, light green, and broad ovate leaves grow alternately on the stem,
clasping it at the bases. The flowers are tubular, succulent and thick, light yellow-
green, and hang in little drooping clusters of two to five, growing from the leaf axils.
Flowers bloom April to June. The fruit is a small berry about the size of a pea,
blackish-blue, fruit is not edible, said to be poisonous. Gather roots in fall as flows
fade, dry for later herb use.
Solomon's Seal is edible and medicinal,
the young edible shoots are an excellent vegetable when boiled and eaten like Asparagus.
The root is edible after boiling in three changes of water or sun baked, and is a good
source of starch. This herb has a long history of use in alternative medicine dating back
to the time of Dioscorides and Pliny. The main constituents are saponins (similar to
diosgenin), flavonoids, and vitamins. A medicinal infusion of root or rhizome, is used in
alternative medicine as an astringent, demulcent, and tonic. The dried herb is taken as a
laxative and restorative, and is good in inflammations of the stomach, indigestion,
profuse menstruation, lung ailments, general debility, bowels, piles, and chronic
dysentery. A medicinal poultice of the fresh roots is said to fade bruises, also applied
to cuts and sores.
Once believed to have aphrodisiac
properties, and used in love potions. More than likely due to its ability to stop profuse
menstruation. Gerard says: 'The roots of Solomon's Seal, stamped while it is fresh
and greene and applied, taketh away in one night or two at the most, any bruise, blacke or
blew spots gotten by falls or women's wilfulness in stumbling upin their hastie husband's
fists, or such like.'
"Medicinal" tea: To 1 tsp. dried herb add 1 cup boiling water,
steep for 10 min. sweeten to taste, take in the morning as laxative.
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen