Lily of The Valley

Lily of the ValleyLily of The Valley — Convallaria majalis, commonly known as the Lily of the Valley or Lily-of-the-Valley, is the only species in the genus Convallaria in the flowering plant family Ruscaceae, formerly placed in the lily family Liliaceae or in its own family called Convallariaceae. This woodland plant is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe and a limited native population in Eastern USA (Convallaria majalis var. montana.) It is a herbaceous perennial plant that forms extensive colonies by spreading underground stems called rhizomes that send out stolons. These send up numerous stems each spring. 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 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 to 3 mm wide. Plants are self-sterile, and colonies of one clone do not set seed.

Convallaria majalis is a popular garden plant, grown for the scented flowers. A number of different forms are grown including plants with double flowers, rose colored flowers, plants with variegated foliage and forms with larger size. Some consider it a weed, because it can spread over a wide area of gardens and other places where it is planted and can be difficult to contain or remove.

Lily of the Valley is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Grey Chi.

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