No. 85. Sigillaria multiflora.
Classif. Nat. Order of Asparagoides. Hexandria monogynia L.
Genus SIGILLARIA. Perigone tubular, six cleft. Stamens six, inserted in the upper part of the tube. One pistil, one style, one stigma. Berry three celled, cells two seeded. Flowers axillary to stem leaves.
Sp. Sigillaria multiflora. Raf. Stem terete, leaves clasping oblong oval, acute, smooth, peduncles nodding multiflore.
Description. Root perennial, horizontal, thick, wrinkled, premorse. Stem simple, erect, two or three feet high, smooth and round. Leaves alternate, longer than the internodos, oblong acute, broad or suboval, base clasping, entire, multinerve, very smooth. Flowers white, pretty large, nearly one inch long, several on axillary reflexed peduncles, three to five sessile. Berry round, red, dotted.
History. Linnaeus and the Linnaen botanists have united half a dozen genera under the name of Convallaria, which thus has no characters of its own; they are
1. Convallaria. L. Perigone corolliform campanulate, six cleft. Six stamens. Berry three celled. Scapes racemose. Lillies of the valley. C. majalis and C. japonica.
2. Globeria. Raf. Perigone corolliform globular, six toothed. Six stamens. Scape spicated. C. spicata of Thunberg.
3. Sigillaria. Raf. 1817. See above: the Polygonatum of Tournefort, bad name, same as Polygonum. All the species vulgarly called Solomon Seal. A genus of antidiluvian plant has been called Sigillaria by Brongniart, which ought to be called Sigillites. If any name must be changed, I offer another substitute as good, Axillaria.
4. Mayanthemum. Pers. (Smilacina, Desf. a bad name, formed from Smilax.) Perigone corolliform, six parted, spreading, six stamina, divergent, inserted at the base of the segments. Berry three celled. A stem, flowers terminal racemose. M. stellatum, M. racemosum. M. trifolium, &c.
5. Styrandra. Raf. 1817. Perigone corolliform, four parted, spreading, four stamens divergent. Berry two celled. Habit as the last. St. bifolia.
6. Clintonia. Raf. 1817. Perigone corolliform, six parted, campanulate, six stamens, inserted at the base. Style compressed, stigma bilobe, compressed. Berry two celled, cells polysperm. Scape with umbellate flowers. Several species called Dracena borealis and Convallaria umbellata by authors, distinguished by myself, 1. Cl. nutans. 2. Cl. odorata. 3. Cl. podanisia, 4. Cl. parviflora. 5. Cl. multiflora.
It is absurd to consider all these genera as one genus, without any collective characters; they are not even subgenera, since their habit and flowers are widely different. The S. multiflora is found all over the United States, on hills; it blossoms in June and July. The other American species of Sigillaria, such as S. biflora, S. latifolia, S. pubescens, &c. are all called Solomon Seal, and having similar properties, will be included here.
Properties. The roots of those plants are chiefly used. They are demulcent, restringent, corroborant, depurative, vulnerary, cosmetic, cephalic, nervine, &c. Their smell is vapid, the taste rather mucilaginous and sweetish: they contain gum, sugar, mucilage, and fecula. Their properties are so mild that they can be eaten, particularly when dry or cooked. In Sweden, a flour and good bread is made with them. Our Indians collected them as an article of food. The Indians of Oregon or Columbia river eat the berries, calling them Solma, which name is surprisingly similar to ours. The young shoots may be eaten like Asparagus and Poke, according to Cutler. Schoepf says that the bruised root is employed in ophthalmy or sore eyes. They are also useful in poultice, for piles, wounds, and inflammations of the skin. A vinous infusion of them with Comfrey roots is useful as a restringent in fluor albus, leucorrhea, and immoderate flow of the menses. The powdered roots purify the blood; their extract has been used by Dr. Arnold for coughs and pains in the breast. They appear to be equivalent to Ulmus fulva, and may perhaps be used in bowel complaints. Schoepf says that one species (more probably Uvularia grandiflora) is employed in Pennsylvania against the bites of rattle snakes. The berries are cephalic and cardiacal, like those of Mayanthemum racemosum, mentioned by Clayton.