Convallaria majalis L. - Lily of the Valley

Convallaria majalis plant

Family - Liliaceae

Stems - Creeping underground rhizomes. Aerial stems to +15cm long.

Leaves - 2-3 per node, oblong to elliptic, entire, glabrous, to +15cm long, +4cm broad.

Convallaria majalis leaf

Inflorescence - Raceme terminating aerial stem, to 7cm long. Pedicels to 1cm long, glabrous, with scarious bract at base to 8mm long.

Flowers - Nodding. Perianth campanulate, white, glabrous, to +6mm long, +8mm broad, 6-lobed. Lobes 2.5mm broad, 3mm long, fragrant. Stamens 6, borne at base of perianth tube. Anthers pale yellow, to 2mm long, tapering to point at apex. Filaments short, -1.5mm long, pinkish-purple at base. Ovary glabrous, superior, 3-carpellate. Style 2.2mm long.

Convallaria majalis flowers

Fruit - Globose, red, fleshy, to -1cm in diameter.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Cultivated and rarely escaped to roadsides or waste ground.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This species can be found sporadically escaped throughout much of Missouri. The plant is often found around old homesites or businesses.
C. majalis can form large colonies when left untouched. It is a toxic plant that contains cardiac glycosides.
Traditionally the plant was used as a Digitalis substitute to treat heart disease. A flower and root tea was used to treat fevers, as a diuretic, sedative, and emetic. A root ointment was used to treat burns to prevent scaring.

Photographs taken in Lochapoka, AL., 4-16-05.


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