The Solomon's Seal (Convallaria polygonatum) is a handsome woodland plant by no means uncommon throughout England, particularly in Berkshire, Bucks, Rants, Kent, and Suffolk.
It grows to the height of about two feet, bearing along its curved drooping branches handsome bells of pure white, which hang down all along the lower side of the gracefully weeping flower stalks.
The oval leaves are ribbed, and grow alternately from the stem, for which reason the plant is called Ladder-to-heaven; or, "more probably," says Dr. Prior, "from a confusion of "Seal de notre Dame" (our Lady's Seal), with "Echelle de notre Dame" (our Lady's Ladder)." The round depressions resembling seal marks, which are found on the root, or the characters which appear when it is cut transversely, gave rise to the notion that Solomon, "who knew the diversities of plants, and
the virtues of roots," had set his seal upon this in testimony of its value to man as a medicinal root. The rhizome and herb contain convallarin, asparagin, gum, sugar, starch, and pectin.
In Galen's time the distilled water was used by ladies as a cosmetic for removing pimples and freckles from the skin, "leaving the place fresh, fair, and lovely." During the reign of Elizabeth it had great medical celebrity, so that, as we learn from a contemporary writer, "The roots of Solomon's Seal, stamped whilst fresh and green, and applied, taketh away, in one night, or two at the most, any bruise, black or blue spots gotten by falls, or woman's wilfulness in stumbling
upon their hasty husband's fists, or such like," and "that which might be trewly written of this herb as touching the knitting of bones, would seem to some well nigh incredible; yea, although they be but slenderly, and unhandsomely wrapped-up; but common experience teacheth that in the worlde there is not to be found another herbe comparable for the purpose aforesaid. It was given to the patients in ale to drink--as well unto themselves as to their cattle--and applied
outwardly in the manner of a pultis."
The name Lady's Seal was conferred on this plant by old writers, as also St. Mary's Seal, Sigillum sanctoe Marioe.
The Arabs understand by Solomon's Seal the figure of a six-pointed star, formed by two equilateral triangles intersecting each other, as frequently mentioned in Oriental tales. Gerard maintains that the name, "Sigillum Solomunis", was given to the root "partly because it bears marks something like the stamp of a seal, but still more because of the virtue the root hath in sealing or healing up green wounds, broken bones, and such like, being stamp't and laid thereon."
The bottle of brass told of in the "Arabian Nights" as fished up was closed with a stopper of lead bearing the "Seal of our Lord Suleyman." This was a wonderful talisman which was said to have come down from heaven with the great name of God engraved upon it, being composed of brass for the good genii, and iron for the evil jinn.
The names "Convallaria polygonatum" signify "growth in a valley," and "many jointed." Other titles of the plant are Many Knees, Jacob's Ladder, Lily of the Mountain, White wort, and Seal wort.
The Turks eat the young shoots of this plant just as we eat Asparagus.
The Primitive Simplers presented here show the way of life in other generations, it is not suggested or recommended trying them yourself.
History of Herbs
Herbs for Beginners
Drying & Preserving Herbs
Indoor Herb Gardening
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Oil and Vinegar
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