Convallaria majalis (European Lily-of-the-valley)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Convallaria
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:4 to 10 inches
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] From 6 to 14 white bell-shaped flowers hang down in a single raceme that extends off the top of the main stem. Each flower is about 1/3 inch long, has 6 lobes that curl back, and a stem about ½ inch long. The raceme is up to 6 inches long and nods down at the tip. The flowers are fragrant.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Each plant has 2 leaves oppositely attached at the top of the short main stem, or sometimes a whorl of 3 leaves. Each leaf is up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide, oval to elliptical, tapering to a point at both ends, with many faint parallel veins. The edges are smooth.

Fruit:

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a red berry about ¼ inch across, containing 1 to 3 seeds. Not all plants produce fruit.

Notes:

This plant is a garden escapee, and toxic to both animals and humans. It is slow to spread but long lived once established, forming dense colonies and crowding out native species. There is a giant colony of this in the woods at Long Lake Regional Park. When it's in bloom, the fragrance is intoxicating, and you can smell it long before you see it. Formerly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, Convallaria is now in the Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom) family.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.

Comments

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

Posted by: Debra M.
on: 2009-03-22 17:53:03

Lily of the Valley, is my absolute favorite flower. From my youth, late 1950's through the sixties we would search for them on the protected sides of the trees that were a part of the woods on our property. In addition, my grandmother grew them on the north side of her home at the base of some fern plants. I was always fascinated by the bells and often imagined what sound they would make if they rang.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2009-03-23 12:15:24

They do have a lovely scent, too bad they are not native to MN. At least they aren't as invasive as some, but they do colonize and can create monocultures, though slowly.

Posted by: Shehnaz - brooklyn center
on: 2010-04-30 08:51:39

They grow contained in a flower bed intermingled with hostas along the front of the house and in a small patch by my deck in the back yard, I love the smell.

Posted by: Meredith - Shoreview
on: 2010-05-12 18:21:24

I just found a group of these today on the small trail on the east side of the Shoreview Community Center.

Posted by: Robin - New Hope
on: 2011-05-21 14:09:59

Found a small colony of these in bloom yesterday (5/20/2011) at Northwood Park - on a less trodden forest path.

Posted by: Patrick - Bemidji, Beltrami County
on: 2011-06-16 22:14:48

Several plants on the perimeter of my backyard. They look really cool.

Posted by: Patty - Edina
on: 2011-08-27 14:26:08

I've had them in South Minneapolis, Richfield and Edina. I didn't plant any of them. They're my "birthday flower" and my husband picks a tiny vase of them on my birthday each year. They ARE adorable - and the scent is something else.

Posted by: Valerie - Spring Grove, Houston County
on: 2012-05-22 20:25:59

These are growing in my backyard on the north side of our neighbor's garage.

Posted by: Phil - Duluth
on: 2014-06-24 21:21:11

There are several patches growing along the Tischer Creek trail in Duluth. Now blooming (end of June).

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