Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower)

Plant Info
Also known as: Wild Lily-of-the-valley, False Lily-of-the-valley
Genus:Maianthemum
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:3 to 6 inches
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a densely packed spike-like raceme 1 to 2½ inches long at the top of the stem. Individual flowers are about 3/8 inch across with 4 white petals that drop off soon after blooming, and 4 thick creamy tipped stamens that project out like the points of a star. One plant has a single cluster, though not all plants flower.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Sterile plants have 1 leaf; fertile plants have 2 or occasionally 3 leaves of unequal size, with heart-shaped bases and pointed tips. The largest leaf is up to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. There are feint stripes and parallel veins along the length of the leaf. Leaves are toothless and hairless. The main stem zig-zags between the alternately attached leaves.

Fruit:

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a green berry about ¼ inch in diameter, mottled with dull pale red that ripens to dark red in late summer.

Notes:

Canada Mayflower is a common woodland spring wildflower, typically found growing in colonies of various sizes. Formerly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, all Maianthemum species have been reassigned to Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom).

Please visit our sponsors

  • Must have book for 2014: Pollinators of Native Plants

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake and Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional parks, Ramsey County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jeanne - Minnehaha Falls
on: 2010-06-12 21:01:05

Below the Falls at the mouth of the Creek

Posted by: Steve - Ramsey Minnesota
on: 2011-06-17 20:32:55

Our house lot was part of a tree farm - the flowers are in a small colony underneath a group of scotch pine

Posted by: Pat - Pillager
on: 2011-09-05 21:31:32

I have these growing all over in my native vegetative lot. Quite nice little flowers and can definitely replace the over used Lily-of-the Valley.

Posted by: Noelle - Ely
on: 2012-06-04 21:37:11

Along the road to the International Wolf Center.

Posted by: Joelle - Lebanon Hills Regional Park
on: 2013-06-03 11:10:48

Surprised to spot some of these in Eagan MN (Dakota County). Usually I see them further north.

Posted by: Laurie - Deer River
on: 2013-08-31 19:38:38

I have a small patch of these growing amid sugar maple seedlings, red baneberry, and near a blue cohosh in a vegetative area under mature sugar maples.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.