Herb: King Solomon's Seal

Latin name: Polygonatum commutatum

Synonyms: Convallaria commutata, Polygonatum canaliculatum, Polygonatum giganteum

Family: Convallariaceae

Medicinal use of King Solomon's Seal:

A decoction of the root has been used as a herbal steam inhalant as a treatment for headaches.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Moist woodland and copses, often by streams. Plants are rarely found in dry soils.

Edible parts of King Solomon's Seal:

Young shoots - cooked. They can be used as an asparagus substitute. Root - cooked. A parsnip-like flavour. Rich in starch, it can be dried and ground into a powder then used as a thickener in soups etc or can be added to flour when making cakes, bread or whatever. The root should be boiled and sun-dried nine times, it is then delicious (if there is anything left!)

Other uses of the herb:

The root has been burnt in the house for its pleasant fragrance.

Propagation of King Solomon's Seal:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn in a shady part of a cold greenhouse. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible. Germination can be slow, they may not come true to type and it takes a few years for them to reach a good size. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in March or October. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist woodland and copses, often by streams. Plants are rarely found in dry soils.

Known hazards of Polygonatum commutatum:

The fruit and seed are thought to be poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.