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Whorled Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum verticillatum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asparagaceae (Asparagus)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Gardens, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, woodland.

White, 6 petals
Stalked, hanging greenish-white flowers which exist in small clusters. The flowers are green at their ends. Pollinated by bees.
A globular red berry.
A perennial with unstalked leaves in whorls up an erect, angled stem. The dark green leaves are lance-shaped.
Not scented.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Polygonatum verticillatum, also known as Whorled Solomon's seal, is a perennial herb in the family Asparagaceae. It is native to Asia, Europe and North America, and can be found in woodlands, along streams and in shaded areas. The plant grows to a height of 60-90 cm with many erect stems that bear alternate, lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are arranged in a whorl-like pattern around the stem, giving the plant its common name. The flowers are small, greenish-white and hang in drooping clusters along the stem, followed by blue-black berries. The rootstock of the plant is sometimes used for medicinal purposes. The plant is also cultivated as an ornamental for its attractive foliage and flowers, and for its unique leaf arrangement. It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.


Whorled Solomon's Seal, or Polygonatum verticillatum, is a beautiful and fascinating plant that is native to many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a member of the Asparagaceae family and is known for its distinctive whorls of leaves and delicate white flowers. In this blog, we will explore the many characteristics and uses of this remarkable plant.


Whorled Solomon's Seal is a perennial herb that typically grows to a height of 30-90 cm. The plant's stem is erect and typically unbranched, and it features alternating, lance-shaped leaves that grow in whorls of three to six around the stem. The leaves are typically 5-10 cm long and 1-2 cm wide, and they are a deep green color. The plant produces small, bell-shaped white flowers that grow in clusters at the tips of the stems. The flowers are usually about 1 cm long and have six petals that curl backward, giving them a delicate and ethereal appearance.

Habitat and Range

Whorled Solomon's Seal can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, forests, and meadows. It is native to many parts of Europe, Asia, and North America, and it has been introduced to other parts of the world, including Australia and New Zealand. In North America, it can be found from Newfoundland and Labrador in the east to British Columbia in the west, and it is particularly common in the northeastern United States.

Traditional Uses

Whorled Solomon's Seal has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant's root contains saponins, flavonoids, and other compounds that have been found to have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. The root has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, gastrointestinal problems, and joint pain. It has also been used to reduce swelling and inflammation and to improve circulation.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Whorled Solomon's Seal has also been used for culinary and decorative purposes. The plant's young shoots can be cooked and eaten, and its delicate white flowers are often used in floral arrangements.

Conservation Status

Whorled Solomon's Seal is not considered to be a threatened species, but it is vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in urban areas. It is also at risk from over-harvesting, as its root is highly prized in traditional medicine. To help protect this important plant, it is important to limit harvesting and to preserve its natural habitat.

Whorled Solomon's Seal is a beautiful and fascinating plant that has played an important role in traditional medicine and has many other uses. Its delicate white flowers and distinctive whorls of leaves make it a striking addition to any garden or natural area. As we work to preserve our natural environment and protect the many species that call it home, we should remember the important role that plants like Whorled Solomon's Seal play in our lives and in the world around us.

Ecological Importance

Whorled Solomon's Seal provides an important source of food for a variety of animals, including deer, rabbits, and squirrels. The plant's berries are an important food source for many bird species, including thrushes and woodpeckers. The plant's root system also plays an important role in soil stability, helping to prevent erosion and improve soil quality.


Whorled Solomon's Seal is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and maintain in a garden setting. It prefers partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. The plant can be propagated from seed or by dividing its rhizomes in the fall. Once established, Whorled Solomon's Seal can form large, attractive clumps that provide a striking addition to any garden.

Similar Species

Whorled Solomon's Seal is closely related to several other species of Solomon's Seal, including Smooth Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and Great Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum commutatum). These species can be distinguished by differences in leaf shape and flower size and shape.

Folklore and Symbolism

Like many plants, Whorled Solomon's Seal has a rich history of folklore and symbolism. In some cultures, the plant was believed to have magical powers and was used in spells and charms. In Christian tradition, the plant was associated with the biblical figure of King Solomon and was said to have the power to protect against evil spirits. The plant's delicate and graceful appearance has also made it a popular symbol of femininity and elegance.

Whorled Solomon's Seal is a remarkable and versatile plant that has played an important role in human culture and ecology for centuries. Whether used for medicinal purposes, culinary delights, or simply admired for its beauty, this plant is a valuable and essential part of our natural world.

Cultural Significance

Whorled Solomon's Seal has been used for centuries in various cultural traditions around the world. In Japan, the plant is known as yuzuriha and is considered a symbol of longevity, renewal, and good fortune. In Chinese traditional medicine, the plant's root is used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and arthritis. In traditional European folklore, the plant was used as a charm against evil spirits and as a remedy for digestive problems.

Ethnobotanical Uses

Whorled Solomon's Seal has been used by various indigenous cultures for medicinal and cultural purposes. The Cherokee and Iroquois people used the plant's root to treat gastrointestinal problems, while the Navajo used it to treat urinary tract infections. The Haudenosaunee people used the plant as a symbol of peace, and it was included in the traditional "medicine bundles" that were used in healing ceremonies.

Threats and Conservation

Although Whorled Solomon's Seal is not currently considered a threatened species, it is facing a number of threats to its survival. These include habitat loss, over-harvesting, and invasive species. It is important to protect the plant's natural habitat and to limit harvesting to ensure that this important species remains healthy and abundant.

Invasive Species

Whorled Solomon's Seal can be threatened by the invasive plant species Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). This plant can outcompete native species and has been known to displace Whorled Solomon's Seal in some areas. It is important to control the spread of invasive species to protect the native plant communities that include Whorled Solomon's Seal.

In conclusion, Whorled Solomon's Seal is a fascinating and important plant that has played a significant role in human culture and ecology for centuries. Whether used for medicinal, culinary, or decorative purposes, this plant is a valuable and essential part of our natural world. By working to protect its habitat and limit harvesting, we can help ensure that this important species remains healthy and abundant for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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