Native Plants for Shade Gardens in Maryland: Giant Solonmon’s Seal – Polygonatum commutatum

Mar 28, 2024 | Blog, Native Plant Spotlight

Native Plants for Shady Rain Gardens

Giant Solonmon’s Seal – Polygonatum commutatum

giant solomon seal

Polygonatum commutatum, easily grows in average, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. This plant spreads by rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions. Polygonatum biflorum var. Commutatum, commonly called Great Solomon’s seal, occurs in rich woods, thickets, streambanks and along railroads. It is a substantial plant that typically grows 3-5′ tall on stout, arching stems. Bell-shaped, greenish-white flowers dangle in spring from the leaf axils along and underneath the arching stems. Flowers appear in clusters of 2-10 per leaf axil. Flowers are followed by inedible but ornamentally attractive blue-black berries which dangle from the stems. Conspicuously parallel-veined, alternate leaves (to 7″ long).

The starchy rhizomes were formerly used by early Americans as a potato-like food. The common name is usually considered to be in reference to the large, circular seals (leaf stalk scars) located on the rhizomes. However, Edgar Denison suggests that the name actually refers to “wound sealing properties” of the plant. Nomenclature of this plant is somewhat confusing. Both a smooth small Solomon’s seal and a great Solomon’s seal are native to eastern North America.

Common Name: giant Solomon’s seal
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Erosion, Wet Soil
(Information from Missouri Botanical Garden)
Giant Solomon's Seal flowers

Giant Solomon’s Seal flowers in bloom

Giant Solomon's Seal with ripened berries

Giant Solomon’s Seal with ripened berries

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