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Convallaria majalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asparagaceae (Asparagus)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, meadows, parks, towns, woodland.

White, 1 petal
Erect, one-sided flower spikes. The nodding flowers are white or creamy white and bell-shaped. Each flower spike contains between 5 and 15 flowers.
The fruit of Lily-of-the-Valley, known as a "berry," is a small, round, and vibrant red fruit. It develops after the flowering period and contains several small dark seeds inside. This berry is highly poisonous if ingested and should be handled with caution due to its toxic nature.
The broadly elliptical leaves are paired. Not to be confused with the similar looking and edible Wild Garlic. Unlike Wild Garlic, Wild Garlic is garlic-smelling and has much darker, greyish-green leaves.
The aroma of Lily-of-the-Valley is often described as delicate, sweet, and enchanting, with a fresh, floral fragrance that is both subtle and alluring.
Other Names:
Conval Lily, Lady's Tears, Liriconfancy, May Bells, May Lily, Mayflower, Mugget, Our Lady's Tears, Word Lily.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Convallaria majalis, also known as the lily of the valley, is a species of perennial flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its small, white, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. The plant has long, narrow leaves and spreads via underground rhizomes, forming colonies. It prefers moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil and partial shade. Convallaria majalis is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is also used in cut flower arrangements. The plant is poisonous if ingested, and its sap can cause skin irritation.


Lily-of-the-valley, scientifically known as Convallaria majalis, is a fragrant and delicate plant that belongs to the Asparagaceae family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Lily-of-the-valley is highly prized for its fragrant, bell-shaped, white flowers that bloom in the spring.

The name Lily-of-the-valley is derived from its scientific name, Convallaria, which comes from the Latin word convallis, meaning "valley." The second part of the name, majalis, means "of or belonging to May" in Latin, which refers to the time of year when the plant blooms.

Lily-of-the-valley is a low-growing plant that typically grows to a height of 15-30 cm. It has dark green, glossy leaves that are lance-shaped and grow in pairs along the stem. The flowers of Lily-of-the-valley are small, bell-shaped, and white, with a delicate fragrance. They grow in a terminal raceme, which is a long, slender, unbranched flower cluster.

In addition to its ornamental value, Lily-of-the-valley has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It contains several active compounds, including convallatoxin, convallamarin, and strophanthidin, which are cardiac glycosides. These compounds have been shown to have a positive effect on the heart, increasing its strength and regulating its rhythm. As a result, Lily-of-the-valley has been used to treat heart conditions such as congestive heart failure and arrhythmia.

Lily-of-the-valley is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of other ailments, including epilepsy, headaches, and gout. However, it should be noted that the plant is highly toxic if ingested, and its use should be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Lily-of-the-valley has been used in perfumes and other fragrances for centuries. Its delicate fragrance is often described as sweet, fresh, and floral, making it a popular choice for perfumes, soaps, and other scented products.

Lily-of-the-valley is a popular garden plant due to its ornamental value, fragrance, and ease of cultivation. It prefers a shaded or partially shaded location and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The plant can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in the fall or early spring.

Lily-of-the-valley is a beautiful and fragrant plant that has been valued for centuries for its ornamental, medicinal, and aromatic properties. While it is toxic if ingested and should be used with caution, its active compounds have been shown to have a positive effect on the heart and other conditions. Whether grown in the garden or used in fragrances, Lily-of-the-valley is a true gem of the plant kingdom.

Lily-of-the-valley has also played a significant role in mythology and folklore. In Greek mythology, the plant was said to have sprung from the tears of the goddess Maia, who wept when she saw her lover, Hermes, leaving her to go on his travels. The plant was also associated with the goddess Flora, who was said to have worn a garland of Lily-of-the-valley in her hair.

In Christian mythology, Lily-of-the-valley is associated with the Virgin Mary. It is said that the plant sprang up from the ground where her tears fell at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The flower is also known as "Our Lady's Tears" in some cultures.

Lily-of-the-valley is also the birth flower for the month of May, which is fitting since it typically blooms in late April and early May in many regions. In Victorian flower language, Lily-of-the-valley symbolizes sweetness, humility, and a return to happiness.

In some cultures, Lily-of-the-valley is considered to be a symbol of luck and fortune. In Sweden, for example, the plant is often given as a gift on May Day as a symbol of good luck. In some parts of Germany, it is believed that carrying a sprig of Lily-of-the-valley in your pocket will bring good fortune.

Lily-of-the-valley is not only a beautiful and fragrant plant but also a symbol of mythology, folklore, and cultural significance. Its delicate beauty and intoxicating fragrance make it a popular choice for gardens, weddings, and other special occasions. Whether you admire it for its ornamental value or its historical and cultural significance, Lily-of-the-valley is truly a beloved and enchanting plant.

Lily-of-the-valley has also been featured in literature and the arts. The poet William Wordsworth wrote a famous poem about the flower, titled "The Lily of the Valley," in which he describes the plant's beauty and fragrance. The flower has also been featured in several paintings, including the works of Claude Monet, who was particularly fond of its delicate beauty.

In addition to its use in perfumes and fragrances, Lily-of-the-valley has also been used in culinary applications. In France, the plant is used to flavor a traditional liqueur called "Muguet," which is made by infusing the flowers in alcohol. The flowers are also sometimes used to flavor desserts such as ice cream and panna cotta.

Despite its beauty and popularity, Lily-of-the-valley can be invasive in some regions, particularly in North America. The plant spreads quickly through rhizomes and can quickly take over a garden if left unchecked. It is important to monitor the plant and prevent it from spreading too much if you choose to grow it in your garden.

Lily-of-the-valley is a beloved and enchanting plant that has captured the hearts of people for centuries. Whether appreciated for its ornamental, medicinal, or culinary value, the flower's delicate beauty and sweet fragrance make it a true gem of the plant kingdom. With its rich history and cultural significance, Lily-of-the-valley continues to inspire and enchant people around the world.

In addition to its cultural and historical significance, Lily-of-the-valley also has medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for a variety of ailments, including heart conditions, headaches, and skin conditions.

One of the active compounds in Lily-of-the-valley is convallatoxin, which is a cardiac glycoside. Cardiac glycosides are compounds that affect the heart and are used to treat heart conditions such as congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. However, it is important to note that convallatoxin can be toxic in large amounts, and Lily-of-the-valley should not be used as a medicinal herb without the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Lily-of-the-valley also has a long history of use in aromatherapy and perfumery. The sweet, delicate fragrance of the flower is used in a variety of perfumes, soaps, and candles. The essential oil of Lily-of-the-valley is also used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

In terms of its cultivation, Lily-of-the-valley prefers moist, well-drained soil in partial to full shade. The plant is fairly low maintenance and can tolerate a range of soil conditions, but it does require regular watering during dry spells. It is important to note that all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, so it should be planted in an area where pets and children cannot access it.

Overall, Lily-of-the-valley is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a variety of uses. Whether appreciated for its beauty, fragrance, medicinal properties, or cultural significance, it is a true gem of the plant world.

Facts about Lily-of-the-valley

Here are some facts about Lily-of-the-valley:

  • Scientific name: Convallaria majalis
  • It is native to Europe and parts of Asia
  • The plant produces small, white, bell-shaped flowers that have a sweet fragrance
  • It is used in perfumery, aromatherapy, and traditional medicine
  • Lily-of-the-valley has a rich history in mythology, folklore, and cultural significance, including being associated with the Virgin Mary and being a birth flower for May
  • The plant can be invasive in some regions and is toxic if ingested

Lily-of-the-valley is a fragrant and beautiful plant that has a rich history and cultural significance. It has been used in perfumery, traditional medicine, and aromatherapy and is associated with mythology and folklore. Despite its beauty and popularity, it can be invasive and is toxic if ingested.


Video 1: Lily-of-the-Valley in fruit filmed at Formby, Lancashire on the 25th September 2022.


Music credits
Prelude No. 1 by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Video 2: Lily-of-the-valley filmed on Duxbury housing estate in Lancashire on the 12th May 2023.


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