Convallaria majalis

Common Names: Lily of the valley, lily-of-the-valley
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Asparagaceae family

A herbaceous perennial plant 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 to 30 cm tall, with one or two leaves 10 to 25 cm long; flowering stems have two leaves and a raceme of 5 to 15 flowers on the stem apex. The flowers have six white tepals (rarely pink), fused at the base to form a bell-shape, 5 to 10 mm diameter, and sweetly scented. The fruit is a small orange-red berry 5 to 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.

Prefers shady locations including forests. They are common in flower gardens and landscaping. Flowering is in late spring, in mild winters in the Northern Hemisphere it is in early March.

Edible Notes: Poisonous.
Warnings: All parts of the plant are highly poisonous. If ingested, even in small amounts, the plant can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, reduced heart rate, blurred vision, drowsiness, and red skin rashes. These are easily confused with wild ramps, which are an excellent wild edible. The leaves of the two are nearly identical, however the flower looks a bit different. The fastest way to be sure is to pull up the plant and examine and smell the root. The roots of ramps are more bulb-like and smell strongly of onion.