Convallaria multiflora. (Polygonatum Multiflorum. Desfontaines.) Giant Solomon's Seal.
Nat. Ord. — Liliaceae. Sex. Syst. — Hexandria Monogynia.
Description. — This plant has a perennial root with a terete, recurved, smooth stem, growing from one to four feet high ; the leaves alternate, distichous, lanceolate, amplexicaul, smooth and glossy above, paler and generally pubescent beneath, from two and a half to six inches long, by one to two and a half broad. Flowers five to eight lines long, pendulous, greenish-white, subcylindric. Peduncles axillary, filiform, branching, scarcely a fifth as long as the leaves, and from one to six-flowered. Berry globose, three-celled, dark-blue or blackish when ripe ; cells two-seeded.
Convallaria Racemosa, the Smilacina Racemosa of Desfontaines, has a thick rhizoma, sweet to the taste, with a stem from one to two feet high, downy, and recurved at top. The leaves are from four to six inches long and about one-third as broad, oval, acuminate, veined, minutely pubescent, on petioles not exceeding two lines in length, and often sessile. The flowers are very numerous, small, white, on white pedicels, and with white, exserted, tapering filaments, constituting a large, compound, terminal raceme. Berry three-celled, pale-red, speckled with purple, aromatic.
History. — These plants grow on the sides of meadows, high banks, woods, and mountains, in various parts of the United States, especially in the northern and eastern States, and Canada, and are in blossom from May to August. The roots, which are the officinal parts, are inodorous, but of a sweetish, mucilaginous taste, followed by a slight degree of bitterness and acrimony. There are several varieties of this plant, some of which have been transferred to other families, as Smilacina, and Polygonatum, but the roots of which, probably, possess similar medical virtues. Although used with much benefit in many diseases by nearly all Eclectics, yet this plant has received but little attention as to its true therapeutical, as well as physical characteristics.
Properties and Uses. — Tonic, mucilaginous, and mildly astringent. Found of much value in leucorrhea, menorrhagia, female debility, and pectoral affections. In piles, the root chewed and swallowed, or a decoction drank as freely as the stomach will bear, will be found to give prompt relief, or the root may be applied to the part, with a similar result. An infusion of the root will be found of great efficacy in irritable conditions of the intestines, as well as in chronic inflammations of these parts, especially when attended with burning sensations, pain, etc. In erysipelas, and cutaneous affections of an erysipelatous nature, as well as those maladies of the skin produced by the poison-vine, or resulting from the poisonous exhalations of other plants, the decoction of Solomon's Seal Root will afford direct relief, and an ultimate cure ; it may also be applied externally, with advantage, to local inflammations. A large dose of the decoction will often provoke emesis or nausea, and act as a cathartic. Dose of the decoction, from one to four ounces, three times daily.
Off. Prep. — Decoctum Convallariae ; Vinum Symphyti Compositum.