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Lily of the Valley Flower Facts

Updated on August 28, 2010

Physical Appearance and Characteristics

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is a beautiful perennial that looks so delicate with its small bell-shaped flowers. It is also known as May lily, Our Lady’s tears, May bells, Convall-lily, ladder-to-heaven, Lily Constancy, male lily, Jacob’s ladder, muguet. It originated in Europe and is distributed widely today throughout North Asia and North America, but it is still found as commonly as wild flowers in England. Usually the flowers are white but you can find some with a pink hue to them.

A slow but aggressive spreader, Lily of the Valley can tolerate dry conditions but after blooming its foliage will die back. The flower will spread slowly to form a green and thick carpet that remains attractive from early spring to late summer. This hardy flower is one of the few perennials that able to prosper in deep shade and is valued primarily for its scent. Constant moisture will keep this plant green throughout growing season. The leaves of this herb, arising from a slender creeping rootstock, are about 10 to 15 centimeters long with sheathed stalks; its leafless flowerstems support a one-sided spike of drooping, white, bell-shaped, sweet-scented flowers.

Lily of the Valley Flower

It also makes a good choice in small contained spaces. This plant is not very particular about the soil it is planted in. It grows well in zones 2 – 7 and is very seldom troubled by diseases and pests. It wont survive well in high-traffic areas. Although each plant has only 2 to 3 wide and glossy leaves, it makes beautiful ground cover in masses. It can spread quickly by underground stems called rhizomes. The flower grows in the spring and creates 6 little stamens. By Septtember the flower is producing sweet berries that are 5 – 7 mm in diameter in place of the petals. New plants can be propagated by dividing the clumps at any season.

Symbolism and Meanings

Lily of the valley was first cultivated in 1420, it is mainly available in April and May. The Lily of the Valley is also known by many people as Our Lady’s tears, according to legend the tears that Mary shed at the cross turnedd in to Lily of the Valley flowers. There is another legend claims that the flower also sprang up from St. Leonard’s blood during his battle with the dragon. Traditionally associated with 1st of May, especially in France where the “muguet” is handed out at special events. Lily-of-the-Valley is also the national flower of Finland.

Lily of the valley flower is said to symbolize the return of happiness. In ancient times, girls and boys would pick bouquets of lily of the valley because the flower was supposed to bring good fortune in love. Since the Middle Ages, the blossoms are often included as traditional part of the bride’s beautiful bouquet and are considered symbolic of purity and modesty. If someone send these flowers to you, he is sending a message that he desires fortune in love or that he wishes to make the right choice.

Lily of the Valley Guide Book


The flowers are utilized by the perfume industry and during world war I, the leaves were first prescribed medically to reduce blood pressure of gassing victims. Lily of the valley flower is much used in bridal arrangements for their sweet perfume. Convallaria is also a valuable heart remedy and during the first world war, it was used to treat victims of gassing as it reduces blood pressure. Without a qualified medical practitioner these leaves should not be used as they can have harmful effects if not treated correctly. The red fruits are also highly poisonous. In Chinese medicine, related species are used as a tonic.


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