Polygonatum humile
Common Name: dwarf Solomon's seal
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Eastern Europe, western Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Wet Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Best in moist, humus-rich soils in part shade. Slowly spreads by thin rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polygonatum humile, commonly called dwarf Solomon's seal, is a creeping, rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial that typically grows to only 9" tall. It is native to forests and grassy slopes in northeastern China, Japan, Korea and eastern Siberia. Upright stems rise from plant rhizomes to 6-8" tall in spring, each stem bearing 7-11 alternate, conspicuously veined, lanceolate to ovate leaves (each to 3" long). Tubular, greenish-white flowers (to 3/4" long) dangle in spring from the upper leaf axils (usually one but sometimes two flowers per axil). Flowers are followed by pendulous blue-black berries (each 1/4" diameter) which hang downward from the axils.

Genus name comes from Greek words poly meaning many and gonu meaning knee joint in reference to the jointed plant rhizomes. Early herbalists believed that plants with jointed rhizomes were helpful in treating human joint disorders.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin humilis meaning small or slight in reference to the dwarf size of this plant.

Common name is usually considered to be in reference to the large, circular seals (leaf stalk scars) located on the rhizomes. However, some authorities suggest the common name actually refers to “wound sealing properties” of the plant.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Best in woodland gardens or shady areas of rock gardens or border fronts. Ground cover.