044. Convallaria polygonatum. Common Solomon's seal.
Synonyma. Convallaria. Pharm. Edinb.
Polygonatum latifolium flore majore odoro. Bauh. Pin. 303.
Polygonatum floribus ex singularibus pediculis. J. Bauh. iii. p. 529.
Polygonatum majus flore majore. Park. Theat. p. 696.
Sweet-smelling Solomon's Seal. Gerard. Emac. 904. Raii Synopsis, p. 263. Spec. 2. Raii. Histor. p. 665. Withering. Bot. Arrang. p. 354. Flor. Dan. Icon. 337.
β Polygonatum Hellebori albi folio, caule purpurascente. Raii Syn. 263.
Class Hexandria. Ord. Monogynia. L. Gen. Pl. 425.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Cor. sexsida. Bacca macusofa 3-locularis.
Spec. Char. C. foliis alternis amplexicaulibus, cause ancipiti, pedunculis axillaribus subunifloris.
The root is perennial, horizontal, white, fibrous, beset with knobs, and said [These depressions are more peculiarly characteristic of the Convallaria multiflora.] to be marked with circular depressions, resembling the impressions of a seal; hence the name Solomon's Seal. The stalk is inclined, angular, smooth, and rises about a foot in height: the leaves are oval, pointed, ribbed, smooth, above of a deep green colour, underneath glaucous, and at the base embrace the stem: the flowers are long, bell-shaped, white, or tinged with green; divided at the extremity into six short segments, and hang from the same side of the stalk upon slender peduncles: the filaments are six, tapering, short, and inserted in the corolla: the antherae are oblong and erect: the style is filiform, longer than the stamina, and crowned with a blunt triangular stigma: the germen is round, and when ripe becomes a black berry, divided into three cells, each containing a single round seed. It grows in the rocky and woody parts of England, and flowers in May and June.
The root, which is the medicinal part of Solomon's Seal, is very generally, by writers on the Materia Medica, referred to the Convallaria multiflora of Linnaeus, or the Polygonatum latifolium vulgare of C. Bauhin. It is of a mucilaginous [As a proof that these roots contain a considerable proportion of farinaceous matter, Bergius says, "Panem e radice recente, addita farina frumenti, annonae caritate coxerunt rustici nostrates, qui fuscus fuit, & subglutinoso sapore." M. M. 271.] quality, and has long been commonly employed as a discutient poultice to various kinds of tumours, but more particularly to bruises, accompanied with extravasation of blood in the cellular membrane: ["Cataplasma e radice familiare remedium est in sugillationibus, & in omni contusione, sanguinem grumosum efficaciter discutiens." Rutty M. M. 403.] it is also recommended as a cosmetic; and in Galen's time was used by women to remove pimples and freckles of the skin. Of its astringent effects, when taken internally, there can be no well grounded expectation. The berries, flowers, and leaves, are extremely acrid, and are said to be of a poisonous quality. [Vide Haller Stirp. Helv. No. 1243. Geoff. M. M.]