Other Names American Solomon’s Seal, King Solomon’s Seal, King Solomon’s-seal, Small Solomon’s Seal, Lady’s Seals. St. Mary’s Seal, True Solomon’s Seal, Sow’s Tits, Sow’s Teats, Dropberry, Sealroot, Sealwort
Solomon’s Seal is a lovely woodland perennial with native varieties in North America, Asia and Europe. It can grow up to two feet tall. (Greater Solomon’s Seal is much larger than True Solomon’s Seal, but they have identical properties.) The plant consists of a single stem with many broad, ovate leaves with parallel venation arranged alternately along the length of it and clasping the base. The plant often grows in a slight arc and the flowers dangle from the leaf axils beneath the arc of the stem. (This gives the plant its folk name “sow’s teats”) The flowers are small, white to pale yellowish green and tubular and occur in drooping clusters of two to five. Blooming begins in April and continues through midsummer. The berries appear as the flowers fade and resemble a hard black pea.
In addition to True and Greater Solomon’s Seal, the gardening industry has created a lovely variegated Solomon’s Seal. This has identical properties to the original but looks a bit different with lighter colored splashes on the leaves.
History and Folklore
Solomon’s Seal is named for King Solomon of Hebrew lore who was granted great wisdom by the Hebrew God and had a special seal that aided him in his magical workings, allowing him to command demons without coming to harm.
According to herbal lore, King Solomon himself placed his seal upon this plant when he recognized its great value. Those with imagination can see the seal on the root stock in the circular scars left by the stem after it dies back.
Solomon’s Seal has also been traditionally used to “seal” wounds.
You can estimate the plant’s age by examining the rhizome. Each year the stem leaves on scar, or “seal” on the rhizome. Counting these will give you an idea of how long your plant has been alive.
Solomon’s Seal prefers a light soil, a good mulch and a shady location in zones 4 through 9. It can be grown by division or by seed. It will return year after year and spread itself. It is a lovely, delicate addition to a shade garden.
Some areas list Solomon’s Seal as an invasive weed.
Harvesting & Storage
Although this plant is not currently listed as endangered, the usual warnings about responsible wildcrafting apply. Because this plant is so easy to grow in a shady garden bed, wildcrafting is not necessary.
Gather the rhizomes in the fall and lay on a screen to dry in a warm, dry location with good circulation free from humidity and sunlight. Once dry, store in a cool location away from light.
Solomon’s Seal aids one in making difficult decisions and accepting and seeking change. Helps in spellwork to aid changing/breaking habits and helps in smooth transitions for changes beyond our control. It is also used in love potions to amplify commitment between partners and to “seal” a spell or a sacred oath or promise.
An infusion of Solomon’s Seal, or incense made of Solomon’s Seal root can both be used to drive away negative vibrations and malicious spirits. It can also be used to summon helpful spirits and elementals.
The root can be carried as an amulet to ward off malicious spirits and to increase wisdom.
Solomon’s Seal is appropriate for use during Autumnal Equinox rituals.
The fresh root, pounded and applied topically helps fade bruising. A decoction can also be used as a facial rinse to help fade blemishes or for poison ivy and similar skin problems.
Solomon’s seal should only be used internally under the close guidance of an experienced herbal practitioner.
An infusion can be used for profuse menstruation and internal bleeding, indigestion and other stomach and digestive complaints including ulcers, bowel problems, and hemorrhoids. It is also said to speed the healing of broken bones. Used as a mouthwash, it is said to help strengthen gums.
Solomon’s Seal root tea is a good tonic acting on the kidneys, heart and sexual organs as well as soothing the digestive system.
Oil infused with Solomon’s Seal root is good to keep on hand for first aid treatment of sprains, strains and broken or bruised bones. (Not to replace, but to enhance modern medical intervention.) Solomon’s Seal root tea or tincture aids in the repair of broken bones and may be drunk after a doctor has set the break. It is also great for torn ligaments, dislocations and other issues with joints.
Young shoots harvested in early spring can be prepared and eaten like asparagus.
The roots should be boiled with three changes of water before being roasted and eaten.
All parts of the adult plant, especially the berries are poisonous and should not be consumed.
Solomon’s Seal seems innocuous, especially when young, but parts of it are poisonous. Seek out a personal consultation with a skilled herbalist before using internally for food or medicine.