False Solomon's Seal & Solomon's Seal

Maianthemum racemosum vs Polygonatum species

False Solomon’s Seal was brought up in another discussion so I thought I’d start a new one here for the medicinal benefits of both plants.

Solomon’s Seal - Polygonatum biflorum is the North American species and Polygonatum multiflorum is the European species. Currently listed in the Asparagaceae family but has been part of the Convallariaceae and Lilliaceae families.

Above pic from Better Homes & Gardens

This species is less familiar to me as it doesn’t grow in my area. P. multiflorum and P. biflorum are used for similar purposes.

Properties: Astringent. Demulcent. Tonic/Cardiotonic. Anti-ecchymotic. Anti-inflammatory. Anti-bacterial. Used for respiratory issues including sore throats & dry coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, TB. Helpful with digestive inflammation and chronic or bloody dysentery. Improves joint conditions by improving the production of synovial fluid and restoring muscular tissue’s elasticity. Good for repetitive stress issues. Eases swelling. In TCM it is known as a Yin tonic.

False Solomon’s Seal - Maianthemum racemosum. The previous Latin name was Smilacina racemosa. This genus is in the Asparagaceae family although it may be listed as a Ruscaceae and like Polygonatum species, was also a part of the Convallariaceae and Lilliaceae families.

These pics are local to me. First is an early spring shoot.

Properties: Expectorant. Demulcent. Antibacterial. Analgesic. Antifungal. Styptic. Tonic/Nervine Tonic, False Solomon’s Seal can be used similarly to Solomon’s Seal for respiratory issues. It is also used for pain and inflammation related to spinal issues, rheumatism & arthritis, strains & sprains, torn ligaments, broken bones, etc. Powdered root can be applied to cuts and wounds to stop bleeding.

Star Flowered False Solomon’s Seal, Maianthemum stellata, is another species found in my area. It has fewer flowers, narrower leaves and is a shorter plant. It can be substituted for M. racemosum.

Both Polygonatum species and Maianthemum racemosum can be used for food uses. Young shoots are used in the spring like asparagus. The roots produced a starch when soaked in water which can be dried and used for flour.

Berries of False Solomon’s Seal can be eaten. Depending on the habitat, they can be insipid to sweet. Berries of Solomon’s Seal are emetic. 

As Polygonatum is not native to my area, I hope someone else from its habitat will jump in with any other uses that they know of.


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin

    I have both in my yard and wild all around. I don't use them as much as I should, or Indian cucumber.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Somehow I had it in mind that the False Solomon's Seal was poisonous.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2021

    @Mary Linda Bittle, West Plains, Missouri I'm with you, I thought False Soloman Seal was poisonous also.

    @torey Is this a hard plant to grow?

    I understand by doing some research just now that they like to be on the edge of forests. We have tons of trees and a forest that surrounds the entire property practically. I wonder if I may find some growing in the spring. Or if I can get some to plant perhaps if I don't see any.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    @JennyT Upstate South Carolina I'm not sure how easy it is to grow Solomon's Seal but it is sold as a garden plant in my area. I would think that as long as it gets some shade and moisture it should be OK.

    I have also seen False Solomon's Seal sold in garden centres but it is a very common plant here in the wild. Also in the shade, although I have seen it in areas that get quite a bit of sun. Usually in damper, understory.

    @judsoncarroll4 says he has both in his yard. Maybe he could comment on the ease of growing this plant.

    I have eaten the berries myself without any harm and most are quite sweet. Some First Nations in my area consider them only fit for bears while others valued them enough that they were saved for more important members of the community. That's why I think it depends on the habitat as to how they taste. I've never had the shoots but I know people who have and consider them a spring delicacy. They are sometimes referred to as wild asparagus.

    Maybe they have a bad rap because at a young stage they may easily be confused with False Hellebore (Veratrum viride), which is highly poisonous. They may even be seen growing together, however, False Hellebore is usually at higher elevations while False Solomon's Seal can be found from sea level to nearly sub-alpine. That's in BC. It might be different in other areas.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    torey Thank you for starting this. At first glance at the pictures I thought it was a plant that is called watermelon berry here. But when I looked that one up the botanical name was different (Streptopus amplexifolius). Will continue studying the False Solomon's Seal so that I will be able to identify come springtime when I can go look for it.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    @vickeym They do look quite a bit alike at first glance, especially when young. I have Rosy Twisted-stalk, S. lanceolatus, in my area as well as S. amplexifolius. We have a third species here but its not as common, S. streptopoides, Small Twistedstalk.

    Tasty berries although I have read that some First Nations considered them poisonous. I guess it all has to do with the "terroir". :)

    There isn't too much out there on the medicinal uses. The stems and berries were combined in a tea as a tonic and to stimulate the appetite. The juice of the berries was used to soothe burns. The root has been used to initiate delayed labour.

    @judsoncarroll4 Which plant are you referring to as Indian Cucumber? I found a couple of references that referred to Streptopus as Wild Cucumber. Makes sense as they all seem to grow in the same habitat. I continue to be amazed at the similarities in species we have. Who would have thought that we could find the same plants at 60° as 35° latitude and spread out from one side of the continent to the other.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin
    edited November 2021

    we have the Solomon’s seal (polygonatum odoratum). It grows next to hedges, thus I see it every time, I go to the forest.The plant is partially poisonous. @Mary Linda Bittle, West Plains, Missouri @JennyT Upstate South Carolina Here in Tirol the plant is considered to be poisonous: the leaves are weak poisonous, the berries are more poisonous and when ingested they can cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath. has a blood pressure and blood sugar lowering effect. That is why, so far, I have always admired the plant, but never used it.

    But the roots are not poisonous and are very useful. My colleagues use tincture for different purposes: it is an expectorant, cardiac tonic, helps against sore throat and bronchial catarrh, anemia, bruises, swellings, sprains, fractures, back pain, tightening of tendons and ligaments, gout, menstrual cramps, tuberculosis, bladder stones and constipation.

    For elderly people it is a good tonic, especially for age-related complaints. I guess it is a good tonic for all ages.

    @torey thank you for starting this discussion. It has already motivated me to go and dig out a few roots. The soil is not frozen yet.