Convallaria majalis (European Lily-of-the-valley)
|Also known as:|
|Family:||Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; woods|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 10 inches|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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.
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.
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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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?