- Family (English) Lily of the Valley
- Family (botanic) Ruscaceae
- Tree or plant type Perennial
- Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
- Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
- Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
- Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
- Tolerances Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
- Season of interest late spring, early summer
- Flower color and fragrance White, Yellow, Other
- Shape or form Arching, Narrow
- Growth rate Moderate
- Wildlife Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators
Solomon’s seal has neat, evenly spaced leaves along arching stems, and it is a popular choice for ground cover in shady areas. The delicate, creamy white to yellowish-green flowers dangle under the leaves like little decorative bells. This is a perennial that works well in a shade garden, rain garden, native garden, woodlands, beds, or borders. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.
Size and method of spreading:
Solomon’s seal grows to a mature size of 1 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 1 ½ feet wide. The plant spreads through short, stout underground stem structures (rhizomes).
Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)
The native range of Solomon’s seal includes the entire continental United States with the exceptions of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, and Utah. C Value: 4.
Attracts birds or pollinators:
Birds eat the berries of Solomon’s seal, and ruby-throated hummingbirds seek nectar from the flowers. Butterflies and various insect pollinators also visit Solomon’s seal.
The leaves of Solomon’s seal are a bright, medium green, and turn golden yellow in the fall. Cultivars with variegated leaves are also available. The parallel veins are conspicuous on the back of the leaves (abaxial side), which can be covered in a whitish or bluish waxy coating (glaucous). The leaves uniformly alternate up the arching stem without stalks (sessile) or sometimes clasp the stem. They are often up to 3 inches wide and between 2 to 6 inches long. Solomon’s seal leaves are typically ovate or elliptic.
Solomon’s seal flowers grow from the axils of the leaves in clusters of one to four, typically in pairs, and dangle underneath the arched stems. The flowers are approximately one-half inch long, bell-shaped, and creamy white to yellowish-green. They dangle from individual stalks (pedicels) in a long, unbranched cluster (raceme). The bell shape of the flowers is formed by six petallike structures (tepals) that are fused almost to the tip into a tubular structure (perianth). Six pollen-bearing structures (stamens) are fused on the inside of the perianth, separating near the middle. The style and three-lobed stigma of the female reproductive structure (pistil) rise up through the stamens.
Solomon’s seal produces fleshy, bluish-black berries in the late summer or early fall. The berries are between one-quarter to one-half inch in diameter.
Solomon’s seal can grow well in shady areas near tree roots, and the fallen leaves should be left to form a natural mulch and eventually humus. Solomon’s seal prefers occasionally wet to moist, well-draining soils, but the plant can also tolerate drought once it has become well established. Division is recommended in the early spring or fall.
List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:
No major diseases are issues for Solomon’s seal. Solomon’s seal may attract slugs.