smooth Solomon’s seal

(Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum)

Conservation Status
smooth Solomon’s seal
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Smooth Solomon’s seal is a 12 to 48 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a single stem from a knotty rhizome. The rhizome has conspicuous, large scars that mark the position of the stems of previous years.

The stems are erect, arching, unbranched, leafy, and hairless. They are not jointed at the leaf axils.

The leaves are alternate, stalkless, often clasping, narrowly lance-shaped to broadly elliptic, 3½ to 8 long, and 1 to 3½ wide. They have 7 to 19 conspicuous, parallel veins. The upper surface is green and hairless with recessed veins. The lower surface is paler green, hairless, somewhat covered with a whitish, waxy coating (glaucous), with prominent (raised) veins.

The inflorescence is a small cluster of 2 to 15, though usually 10 or fewer, flowers hanging downward from most leaf axils. The cluster stalk (peduncle) is green, flattened, and arched like a bow, but not strongly bent backward. It is ½ to 1½ long when in flower, elongating to 2½ to 3½ when in fruit. The individual flower stalks are shorter than the peduncle.

The flowers are ½ to long. There are 3 greenish-white or yellowish-green petals and 3 similar sepals (6 tepals) united at the base into a cylinder-shaped tube ending in 6 short, erect, flared, or spreading lobes. There are 6 stamens and 1 style that do not protrude from the tube.

The fruit is a globular berry, 5 16 to ½ long, with several seeds. It is initially green, becoming dark blue-violet when it ripens.




12 to 48


Flower Color


Greenish-white or yellowish-green


Similar Species


Common false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum) is a shorter plant, reaching no more than 30 at maturity. The stem sometimes zigzags. The leaves usually have only 3, sometimes 4 or 5, parallel veins. The inflorescence is plume-like, with white star-shaped flowers on a branched panicle at the end of the main stem. The fruits are green with reddish-purple spots when young and pink to red when mature.

Hairy Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum pubescens) is a shorter plant, reaching no more than 36 at maturity. The leaves are on short stalks and have minute hairs growing along the veins on the underside of the leaves and on the edges of the leaves. These hairs can be very hard to see. They have 3 to 9 parallel veins.

Large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandifloria) is a much shorter plant, reaching no more than 20 at maturity. The leaves are perfoliate and have 3 to 5 prominent veins. The flowers are bell-shaped, 1 to 2 long, and bright yellow. The fruit is a 3-celled, greenish to yellowish-brown capsule.

Rose twisted-stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus var. longipes) is a shorter plant, reaching no more than 36 at maturity. The stems are hairy, branching, and jointed at the leaf axils giving them a zigzag appearance. The leaves do not clasp the stem. The flowers are dark rose-purple to pink and bell-shaped. The petal-like tepals are not united at the base and turn backward at the tip. They hang singly on stems up to 2 long that are twisted or have an abrupt bend in the middle. The fruit is bright red.

Starry false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum) is a much shorter plant, reaching no more than 24 at maturity. The stem is more erect, reclining only slightly. The leaves are lily-like, narrow, and lance-shaped. The upper leaves are usually stiff and erect or spreading. The inflorescence is spike-like, with white star-shaped flowers in an unbranched cluster at the end of the stem. The fruits are yellowish-green when young with 3 to 6 red to purple stripes, and dark blue to reddish black when mature.


Dry to moderate moisture. Woods, prairies, thickets, roadsides. Full to partial sun.




May to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Asparagales (agaves, orchids, irises, and allies)  


Asparagaceae (agave and allies)  
  Subfamily Nolinoideae (dragon tree)  
  Tribe Polygonateae (true and false Solomon’s seals)  


Polygonatum (Solomon’s seals)  
  Section Polygonatum (alternate-leaved Solomon’s seals)  
  Species Polygonatum biflorum (smooth Solomon’s seal)  

Up to five subspecies of smooth Solomon’s seal have been described. The most common by far, and the only variety found in Minnesota, is var. commutatum. It is usually larger, has more flowers per peduncle, and has more veins per leaf than the nominate variety, var. biflorum. While the varieties can be separated locally, it has not been possible to separate them geographically. For this reason, some authoritative sources, including ITIS, GRIN, Plants of the World Online, and World Flora Online, do not recognize any varieties.




Convallaria biflora

Polygonatum canaliculatum

Polygonatum biflorum var. melleum

Polygonatum cobrense

Polygonatum commutatum

Polygonatum giganteum

Polygonatum melleum


Common Names


American Solomon’s seal

drop berry

giant Solomon’s seal

great Solomon’s-seal

King Solomon’s seal

King Solomon’s-seal


small Solomon’s seal

smooth Solomon’s seal

Solomon’s seal














The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



The stalk of a single flower or flower cluster.



A leaf having margins that entirely surround the stem, giving the appearance that the stem is growing through the leaf.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



Refers to both the petals and the sepals of a flower when they are similar in appearance and difficult to tell apart. Tepals are common in lilies and tulips.

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    smooth Solomon’s seal      


    smooth Solomon’s seal   smooth Solomon’s seal  


    smooth Solomon’s seal      






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Other Videos
  Polygonatum biflorum (without class bit).mp4
newenglandwild's channel

Uploaded on Jul 26, 2011

Dan Jaffe continues his series of native plant videos with Polygonatum biflorum, common name: King Solomon's-seal.

  08 Polygonatum biflorum Séquence 10-Vivaces printanières 1.m4v
Jean Désorcy

Uploaded on Jan 9, 2010

Le Sceau de Salomon verticillé du printemps à l'automne. Salomon's seal from spring to fall. Polygonatum biflorum de la primavera hasta el otoño.

  Edible & Medicinal Solomon's Seal ( Polygonatum biflorum )

Published on May 7, 2012


Edible, Medicinal, Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum, biflorum, commutatum, wild, plant, ethnobotany, bushcraft, survival,

  Plant Comparison: True And False Solomon's Seal

Published on May 10, 2012

More Solomon's Seal showing flowers: Polyonatum biflorum.


These two plants are entirely unrelated belonging to completely different genera. But, they look quite similar until close inspection reveals the vast differences.

Both true and False Solomon's Seal are reported to have medicinal and edible qualities. Solomon's Seal is quite rare locally, but False Solomon's Seal is fairly abundant.

Native Americans reportedly used these two plants for both food and medicine. Modern herbalists still recommend Solomon's Seal, properly prepared, as an excellent relief for pain associated with joint, tendon, cartilage and back injuries.

Tags: Plant comparison Solomon's seal false solomon's seal identification "edible and medicinal plants" eastern woodlands michigan polygonatum biflorum smilax ethical harvest protected species pickers flowers "edible roots" rhizome berry midwest "primitive skills and technology" survival bushcraft prepping morel ash woodsman forager neolithic native american ethnobotany herbal remedy medicine history health joint pain lubricating strains sprains tendonitis wrist elbow knee "natural back pain relief"

  Bumblebees on Smooth Solomon's Seal
Wildflower Farm

Published on Jun 5, 2014

A compilation of bumblebees as they visit Smooth Solomon's Seal at Wildflower Farm. They use buzz pollination to shake out pollen from the deep flower tubes.




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