66. Polygonatum vulgare, Desf.—Solomon's Seal.
Sex. Syst. Hexandria, Monogynia.
Convallaria Polygonatum, Linn.—A well-known indigenous plant, whose rhizome (radix polygonali), though long banished from the Pharmacopoeia, is still kept in the herb shops, and sold as Solomon's Seal (Sigillum Salomonis). I suspect that the rhizome of P. multiflorum is also sold under the same name. When neither species is to be obtained, bryony root is commonly substituted.
Solomon's seal is a white, fleshy, odourless rhizome, having a sweetish, mucilaginous, very slightly bitterish, acrid taste. Iodine applied to the fresh cut surface of the rhizome gathered in September does not darken it. In these properties, the rhizomes of both the above-mentioned species of Polygonatum agree. Walz [Jahrb. f. pr. Pharm. vi. 15; vii. 17. (Wittstein's Vollständ. etym. chem. Handwörterbuch, Bd. i. S. 360, 1847.)] examined chemically the herb, stem, and root of P. multiflorum. He found in them asparagin, uncrystallized sugar, starch, gum, gluten, peculiar nitrogenous matter, acrid resin, pectin, malic, citric, hydrochloric, and phosphoric acids, potash, magnesia, lime, and alumina.
Solomon's seal is a popular application to bruised parts (the eye, for example), to remove the marks. For this purpose it is scraped and applied to the parts. Gerarde [Herball, 1633.] says it "taketh away in one night, or two at most, any bruse, blacke or blew spots gotten by falls or women's wilfulness, in stumbling upon their hastie husbands' fists." (... not funny. -Henriette.)