Solomon's Seal





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 [525] 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 [526] 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.





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