Botanical Name and Pronunciation:
Convallaria majalis (kon-va-LAH-ree-a mah-JA-lis)
Form and Size:
The stems of lily of the valley are 8 – 10 inches long with 6 – 8 clusters of flowers. The stems ends have small bell-shaped flowers that rest on one side of the stem and hang pendulously.
2 – 6 days
peaks in April and May, can be difficult to get
Remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem, cut under water and place in fresh water with flower food. The stalk and berries of this flower are poisonous.
History and Usage:
A member of the Liliaceae (lily) family, lily of the valley originated in South Europe. Its botanical name, Convallaria majalis, comes from the word “convallis” which is Latin for a valley. This is where its popular name lily of the valley comes from. Lily of the valley used to be grown by monks and placed on altars as decoration. This inspired people to call it “stairway to heaven” because the bell-shaped blooms look somewhat like stairs leading up the stem to heaven. At one time in Catholic regions of Europe it was also called Mary’s Tears because it was said to have looked like Mary’s tears at the foot of the cross. Now it is used a lot in wedding and corsage work. These flowers are also used in perfume and scented soaps because of its sweet smell. Its rhizomes have medicinal properties.
Points of Interest:
Relatives of lily of the valley include lily, tulip, asparagus and daylily. These sweet smelling blossoms were said to have been Queen Victoria’s favorite flower. Lily of the valley is said to be a natural symbol of humility and chastity. In the language of flowers, lily of the valley represents happiness or a return of happiness.