Lily of the valley: A Bit of Botany
a little bit of botanical information for lily of the valley

Convallaria majalis is an herbaceous perennial plant of the Asparagaceae family that forms extensive colonies by spreading underground stems called rhizomes. New upright shoots are formed at the ends of stolons in summer; these upright dormant stems are often called pips. These grow in the spring into new leafy shoots that still remain connected to the other shoots under ground, often forming extensive colonies. The stems grow to 15–30 cm tall; with one or two leaves 10–25 cm long, flowering stems have two leaves and a raceme of 5–15 flowers on the stem apex.

The flowers are white tepals (rarely pink), bell-shaped, 5–10 mm diameter, and sweetly scented; flowering is in late spring, in mild winters in the Northern Hemisphere it is in early March. The fruit is a small orange-red berry 5–7 mm diameter that contains a few large whitish to brownish colored seeds that dry to a clear translucent round bead 1–3 mm wide. Plants are self-sterile, and colonies consisting of a single clone do not set seed.

common names & nomenclature
Its scientific name, majalis means "of or belonging to May" in reference to when it blooms.

Also known as:
lily of the valley, our lady's tears, may bells, mary’s tears, may lily, mugeut, lass’s tears

Lily of the Valley, small but not meek
Lily of the valley: Where in the World
habitat and range for lily of the valley

Convallaria majalis is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and in the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States.

Lily of the valley: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting lily of the valley

Lily of the valley grows well as a groundcover in shady dry woodland locations.

Prefers a moderately fertile well-drained moist woodland soil. Grows well in heavy clay, sand or chalky soils, but dislikes pure clay soils and boggy sites.

Sow seed as soon as it is ripe, otherwise in late winter, in a cold frame. Germination, particularly of stored seed can be very slow, taking 2 - 12 months or more at 15°C. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be allowed to grow on undisturbed in the pot for their first year. Can also divide the plant in September and plant directly into the new location.

Lily of the valley plant is harvested when it is in bloom. While the plant is more potent when used fresh, you may dry out the herb and store it for future use.

Store dried flowers and leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

All parts of the plant are highly poisonous, use with expert advice.