Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

King Solomon’s seal

with 13 comments

Here are some flowers of King Solomon’s seal, Polygonatum biflorum, at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, on June 12th. The petal length for this species is given as 13–22 mm (half to seven-eighths of an inch), so you can see how close my macro lens let me get. Given the low light and my unwillingness to add the harshness of flash, I was satisfied to get as much in focus as I did at f/3.5.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2018 at 4:32 AM

13 Responses

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  1. i love their shape


    July 3, 2018 at 6:07 AM

  2. I am sure King Solomon would give his seal of approval to this photo. Although it grows in New Zealand, I didn’t know much about it. I am reading now that it is a food source.


    July 3, 2018 at 7:10 AM

    • I see what you mean. At https://altnature.com/gallery/solomonseal.htm I found that the young edible shoots are an excellent vegetable when boiled and eaten like asparagus, and that the root is edible after boiling in three changes of water or sun baked, and is a good source of starch.

      It’s too bad we can’t give our seal of approval to photographs of King Solomon, or any other historical figure who died more than a couple of centuries ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2018 at 7:30 AM

      • This was an interesting line “or women’s willfulness in stumbling upon their hasty husband’s fists”.


        July 3, 2018 at 8:40 AM

        • An unfortunate line, I’d say. Here’s a portrait of Gerard:


          Steve Schwartzman

          July 3, 2018 at 8:56 AM

          • Interesting and pertinent to a discussion my daughter and I were having about attitudes to plagiarism then and now.


            July 3, 2018 at 6:01 PM

            • Not until the late 19th or early 20th century, I’m afraid, did authors gain reasonable copyright protection for their works. For example, I believe there were more pirated productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s works than authorized ones.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 3, 2018 at 6:48 PM

            • If it’s easy to summarize, what was the gist of your discussion? I’m wondering if it included the Internet, where some (many?) people feel entitled to copy or download whatever they want to.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 3, 2018 at 6:58 PM

              • Yes, the internet was included but it was a long and rambling discussions about the difficulties of enforcing copyright and also how attitudes have changed re copyright and plagiarism.


                July 3, 2018 at 8:09 PM

  3. I wondered how the plant got its name, and found this at wildflower.org: “The rootstalk, or rhizome, of the Solomons Seal is jointed; the leaf stalk breaks away from it, leaving a distinctive scar said to resemble the official seal of King Solomon.”

    I went looking, and found this image of the scar. I thought it was interesting that the seal was said to give King Solomon the ability to speak with animals and spirits. It seems to have been adopted, adapted, and modified by groups ranging from Kabbalists to Wiccans. It would be interesting to know who first saw its image in the flower.


    July 5, 2018 at 10:56 PM

    • You’ve heard about the excuse a student has been said to give a teacher: the dog ate my homework. In the 1973–74 school year a student really did tell me that, and because she was an excellent student I had no reason to doubt her. I bring this up because as soon as I read your comment I thought: she did my homework for me. Like you, I’d wondered about the name, but unlike you I hadn’t pursued it. Imagining the plant’s characteristic root scar as the seal of King Solomon strikes me as pretty fanciful, especially since no one knows what King Solomon’s seal looked like. I also wondered how much people know about King Solomon. Some stories about him are apocryphal. The article at


      mentions lots of political intrigues, and also notes that “marrying foreign women” was one of his supposed sins. Hmmm….

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2018 at 7:04 AM

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