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

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Ruscaceae (Butcher's Broom)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:4 to 10 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
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: Fruit type: berry/drupe

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


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.


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).

Posted by: Brett W - Otsego
on: 2014-12-25 11:26:29

Late May, 2014 -Came across a smaller patch of these on the S side of Fish Lake on the Fish Lake Nature Trail east of the UofM Cedar Creek area.

Posted by: Donna - Duluth
on: 2017-06-04 07:53:16

Small patch of this growing alongside Chester Creek in Duluth

Posted by: Tasha - Fridley
on: 2018-05-12 22:46:21

They were mixed in with the hostas in front when we bought our house in Fridley; I didn't realize it until years later when I separated the hostas and transplanted some to the backyard. I'm in the process of redoing the back garden and spread them around a bit last fall, and they're doing really great this spring.

Posted by: Shauni Mulder - RED LAKE FALLS
on: 2018-07-28 04:05:14

A pleasant surprise to find them growing in my front yard this year. I was outside my home in Northwestern Minnesota photographing all the wildflowers and nature last month, and was lucky enough to get quite a few snaps of them. There were about 10 of then growing along the front of my house. I had never seen them before, so beautiful!

Posted by: Theresa M Zaske - Balaton, Lyon County
on: 2019-06-16 11:58:50

I have these on the East side of my house and in the garden on the north side of my house. I didn't plant them. They've surely spread over the years. They're beautiful.

Posted by: Mike K - Burnsville - My backyard
on: 2019-10-16 14:01:31

I found a bunch of these next to the green utility box in the corner of my yard. It has spread into to the neighbors yard too.

Posted by: Constance Pepin - Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Minneapolis
on: 2022-05-25 06:52:29

This plant becomes a huge problem when it escapes to natural areas.

Posted by: Suzette Kath - Coon Rapids, Anoka County.
on: 2023-06-04 17:32:04

My family when we lived in Coon Rapids, MN. We had Lilies of the Valley on the north side of our house. They were given to us by a former neighbor when I was a young kid. I don't know if they are there anymore.

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