Polygonatum Miller is a genus in the Convallariaceae family commonly known as Solomon's Seal. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II includes it in Asparagaceae or alternately in Ruscaceae. Species are caulescent herbs, with thick to thin rhizomes, and are distributed throughout the temperate parts of Eurasia and North America, but concentrated in the Himalayas and North America. These are woodland garden plants that are grown for their interesting structure and foliage as well as their pendent flowers. Pests include Solomons Seal Sawfly. The name may derive from a medicinal property of sealing wounds or because parts of the plant can be used to form an impression of a six pointed star.
Polygonatum hookeri Baker is native to fairly high alpine turf in a wide swathe from the Himalaya through China's Qinghai and Gansu provinces. This is a diminutive, mat-forming treasure with pink flowers in May-June that grows to 10 cm (4"). Zone 6, perhaps colder. Text and photo from Paige Woodward.
Polygonatum × hybridum (Polygonatum multiflorum × Polygonatum odoratum) is known as 'garden' Solomon's seal and is vigorous. It is prone to attack by Solomons Seal Sawfly. It can be propagated easily from a small piece of rhizome; the rhizomes grow just below the surface and are hard. Stems arch with flowers hanging down, maximum height is about 3 feet. The hybrid is distinguished from the parent species, by having slightly angled ridged stems. Plants die back in late Autumn and reappear in the middle of Spring, but survive being cut back either by sawfly or by the gardener trying to keep them under control. Photographed by David Pilling.
Seed is rarely set. Photos show fruit; neither contained seed.
Polygonatum macranthum (Maxim.) Koidz. is native to Japan and the Koreas. It has one to four long white bells that dangle from the axils of tall, arching stalks and grows to 120 cm (48"). Photo from Paige Woodward.
Polygonatum 'Multifide' is a great plant of unknown origin. It starts as a grey-green single stem, then forks into big, gracefully contorted branches from which dangle long, tubular, greenish-white flowers with green lips. Dark blue berries follow in autumn. It grows to 40-50 cm (16-20") and is hardy to Zone 6, possibly colder. Text and photos from Paige Woodward.
'Variegatum' is a showy selection with leaves edged in creamy white. Photos taken April 2007 by Jay Yourch.
Polygonatum verticillatum commonly known as 'whorled Solomon's seal' is found in the North of Europe. Photographs by David Pilling, photo 1 is of seed, photo 2 taken at the end of August 2013 is of seed which started to sprout on the 14th May 2013, it appears that germination is hypogeal and the small bulbs formed will not begin to grow until 2014 after a further period of cold. Others report similar results for this genus.
Polygonatum zanlanscianense This plant pictured below was purchased as P. cirrhifolium but the owner was sure it was incorrectly identified since her plant had black berries instead of red. It was 1.5 m high with clasping tips to whorled leaves. It has been identified as Polygonatum zanlanscianense. Photo by Anne Wright.