The medicinal plant Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum)

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Solomon’s seal is a perennial plant that has very perfumed flowers, like hyacinths, originating from Europe and Asia. According to some popular beliefs, this plant chases away the bad spirits from the house. It is part of the Convallariaceae family and has the scientific name of Polygonatum odoratum. Its name makes reference to the circular knots, like some small scars or seals on the rhizome, which appear after the plant dries.

This beautiful plant is quite rare, or better said hard to find. It grows in the forested mountain regions, at altitudes between 300 and 1500 m, especially at the edge of oak and beech forests, where the soil is fertile, enriched by the organic matter created by the leaves and plants that decompose on the ground. It prefers the semi-shaded or shaded places, many times being hidden by bushes and barely managing to breathe due to the other weeds around it. Very rarely, it can be seen in clearings or in sunny places. Its rhizome crawls and is found deep in the ground, being anchored through small extensions. It is the source of angular stems that measure up to 40 cm; these are slightly arched and covered by wide and oval leaves that alternate and which are usually light green. The flowers are simple or paired, developing next to the leaves. These are tubular, delicate, white and with short petioles. The round, small and dark blue fruits include just 1-3 seeds. The blooming period takes place in April –June, while the fruits becomemature in the last summer month or at the beginning of autumn. In October, the plant turns yellow and dries. Solomon’s seal’s biggest enemies are the snails, as they eat its leaves and leave a characteristic trace on its surface.

This plant has been used in traditional medicine for a long time, also being appreciated as an ornamental plant for the strong perfume of its flowers, so it is often cultivated in gardens. Today, it is mostly used in homeopathy as most of its parts are poisonous, especially the root and the fruits. The plant has expectorant, anti-edema and anti-inflammatory properties, as it contains active substances like tannin, saponin, asparagin and others. The small and black fruits are very toxic and can cause problems if ingested accidentally, leading to intestinal deficiencies, sickness and vomiting.

Another medicinal plant known for a long time and that is part of the same family is the one known as David’s harp. It has the scientific name of Polygonatum multiflorum and has white, unscented flowers. It grows at the edge of mixed or deciduous forests, especially beech, at altitudes of up to 1800 m. It prefers the shaded places among ferns with large leaves. It has a strong root in the shape of a rhizome with several long extensions. The stem reaches e length of 70 cm and has more oval leaves that alternate at some distances from one another. The flowers are tubular, white-greenish and shaped like a bell, forming bunches with 2-5 flowers. The blooming period takes place in the last spring month and in the first summer month.

This plant is poisonous as well, so it is used just in homeopathy and for external use. The rhizome has astringent, anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties, being used in homeopathic treatments for callus, furuncles and concussions.

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