Polygonatum odoratum

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaLiliaceaePolygonatumPolygonatum odoratum


A rhizomatous, perennial herb of ancient Fraxinus woods, often growing in crevices and on outcrops of limestone. In N. England it is characteristic of grikes in limestone pavement. Generally lowland, but reaching 485 m on Craig y Cilau (Brecs.).



World Distribution

Eurasian Temperate element.

© P. Shannon

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 5

Moisture (Ellenberg): 3

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.1

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.1

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1091

Height (cm): 40

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Non-bulbous geophyte (rhizome, corm or tuber)



Clonality - primary

Rhizome far-creeping

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 48

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: 0.34

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Polygonatum odoratum (Miller) Druce

Angular Solomon’s-seal

Status: scarce


P. odoratum is a rhizomatous creeping perennial herb of ancient limestone woodlands, preferring well-drained steep banks and lesser cliffs. In the Avon Gorge it often grows under Fraxinus excelsior and Tilia cordata, with associates which include Anemone nemorosa, Convallaria majalis, Euphorbia amygdaloides, Mercurialis perennis, Rubia peregrina and Teucrium scorodonia. Limestone pavements provide an additional niche for some of the more northerly populations. The plant appears equally at home on both Carboniferous and oolitic limestones and is usually a lowland species, although it ascends to nearly 400 metres at Malham. It has occasionally been recorded as an introduction.

Although populations flower and fruit freely, they do not appear readily able to colonise new localities. This is possibly because the fruits seem to suffer extensive predation by animals. Most colonies increase their size vegetatively and several colonies have spread in this manner from woodlands onto adjacent quarry faces.

Most populations appear stable, with the exception of those that have been reduced or destroyed through the quarrying of limestone or the removal of limestone pavement for horticultural use. This remains the main threat to this species in Britain.

P. odoratum occurs throughout Europe from central Scandinavia in the north, southwards to Morocco, The eastern range extends through Siberia and the western Himalayas as far as China. 

Hybrids with P. multiflorum are widely grown as garden plants and are often naturalised (Stace 1991). Some of the records of P. odoratum as an introduction may be based on these hybrids.


M. A. R. Kitchen

Atlas text references

Atlas (313a)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.