Solomon’s Seal is not to my mind the most exciting flower in the world, it is most often encountered in the herbaceous border or a garden centre. The ones grown in gardens are a hybrid of the two main species which are Solomon’s Seal and Angular Solomon’s Seal. At best you could say they are graceful and delicate, its in the eye of the beholder and in my eye they are easy to overlook. Sarah Raven ( Chelsea flower show and all) would not agree with me.
There are actually three species of Solomon’s Seal growing in the UK but one is very rare and only found in Scotland, that is called Whorled Solomon’s Seal.
The difference between the other two is that the Angular Solomon’s Seal has square stems in cross section and the bell shaped flowers are not nipped in half way down the tube part. Also the flowers are usually borne singly. Conversely the ordinary Solomon’s Seal has round stems and the tube part of the flower has a marked restriction half way down, and there are usually 3 flowers at each position. The one illustrated above is the hybrid garden variety although it was growing ‘in the wild’ on Clearwell Meend which is part of the Forest of Dean. It has a slight narrowing of the tube, it has ridged but not square stems and two flowers at each position.
The one in the photograph below was growing on Staunton Meend and is also a garden escape. Or maybe someone grew tired of it in their garden and dumped it there. These were both in flower during May.The true Solomon’s Seal is relatively rare but it has been recorded in various locations along the Wye valley, mostly on the Welsh side. It has only been recorded in 268 tetrads in the whole of the UK. There are a total of 2,730 ten Km squares (tetrads) in the UK. However it has been recorded recently in the same tetrad as Ninewells wood occupies, between Trellech and Catbrook, but I have not seen it. I will have to keep an eye out for it. It is an indicator of Ancient woodlands like Woodruff, Wood Anemone, Yellow Archangel, and several others (see list of indicator species).
Solomon’s Seal gets a lot of plaudits from herbalists and alternative medicine practioners, it was used by native north Americans and is being researched for possible heart remedies. However when you read the literature there is a lot of ‘may be of use in….’ and not a lot of hard evidence Make your own mind up, click on, ‘All about Solomon’s Seal‘
Finally the name, why Solomon’s Seal? Well as you would expect there are several explanations but they all seem to revolve around peculiar marks or depressions found on the rhizomatous roots which resemble the Seal of Solomon…
To check out other wildflowers found in the woods of the Wye valley and Ninewells wood click Woodland Wildflowers of the Wye valley and Monmouthshire.