The Bittersweet Lily of the Valley

lily of the valleySuch is life!  While I cannot help gushing about sweet and pleasant fragrance of lily of the valley or Convallaria majalis, it is also true that the flower is highly poisonous.  A native to the lands of cool Northern hemisphere of Europe and Asia, this plant is also the only known species in its genus, Convallaria.  It is naturalized in Ireland and is  a rarity in Scotland. It prefers dry wild areas and grows in patches that tend to sabotage the place.

Gorgeous Bittersweet Lily of the Valley Flower

The bell-shaped white flowers are attractive and with their sweet, strong scent, they are highly desirable. Many top-notch signature perfumes are derived from its synthetic extract.   The flowers, when dried, also emit a strange yet pleasant scent and are often sold at higher rates in some parts of the world.

Similarly, when flowers are mixed with almond or olive oil, the infusion is used as essentials oil in Ayurveda and Chinese traditional medicine.

The matured flowers are developed into red berries, which are poisonous yet quite attractive. Even in less quantity when ingested, these can cause stomach pain, skin rashes and induce nausea in kids.lily of the valley

The propagation of the plant is mainly done by its underground rhizome or stems, which shoot out and grow up two leaves. The leaves hang from a stalk and are of different sizes; usually one will be larger than the other one.  The flower stalk can be usually found in the back of the leaf stalk, devoid of leaves but wrapping in immense possibilities in the form of buds.  They are green in color while growing up but when developed, they turn into this almost pious and purest of white color, hanging like bells.

The nectar is stored in the base of the ovary and the fragrance is the main reason bees are attracted to this plant.lily of the valley

How to Grow and Care for Lily of the Valley:

It is easy to cultivate and prefers well-drained yet moist and rich soil to grow.  If you want to grow Lily of the valley in your garden, September-end is the ideal time.   Prepare a bed with the depth of 15 inch and leave it like that for a few weeks.  Plant the crowns of plant, leaving the gap of at least 10 inches between two rows.

Add some organic or artificial manure available in the market to boost the growth of plant.  Plant the crowns firmly in the soil.  Periodic care with proper feeding and watering regime can bear fine flowers.  Remaking of the beds should be done in autumn and with this done, you can enjoy well-managed crowns by the time it starts raining in winter.


  • It is believed in Sussex that Lily of the valley flowers sprang out from the blood of St. Leonard when he fought against a deadly dragon near Horsham and was badly wounded. Horsham still has place named as St. Leonard’s Forest and the wild is densely carpeted with these flowers.
  • The fruit of the flower is called Maialis.
  • The plant’s ruling goddess is Mercury, according to the traditional books is Mercury.
  • It is also said that the flowers attract nightingale and guide it through the way to its mate.
  • The traditional art of medicine has eloquently described the flowers’ use as anesthesia.
  • When mixed with lime water, the leaves produce green dye.
  • Lily of the valley is treated as diuretic and heart tonic.
  • Flowers were used by the pheasants to remove kidney stones.
  • In Germany, you can find wine prepared with the flowers and raisins.
  • It is highly cited flowers in wedding and quite expensive too. In fact, Duchess of Cambridge’s bridal bouquet was made of Lily of the valley flowers on the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The flowers were also chosen by princess Grace Kelly as a part of her bridal bouquet.
  • According to some Christian legends, the flowers sprang from the tears of Virgin Mary, when Jesus was crucified. Hence, it is also known as Mary’s Tears or Our Lady’s Tears.
  • It is also said that flowers were produced as a result of Eve’s tears when she was driven away with Adam from the Garden of Eden.
  • It is the symbol of humility and Christ’s second coming in religious paintings. It symbolizes return of happiness.
  • The flower is the national flower of Finland and was the floral emblem of Yugoslavia once.