Index- plants in this Family
Liliaceae / Lily
American Lily of the valley (Convallaria majuscula)
American Lily of the valley is also known as Simply Lily of the Valley and formerly considered Convallaria majalis var. montana and Convallaria montana.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 20cm in height (8inches). This native flower is somewhat larger and forms less dense colonies than the European species that often escapes cultivation.
Leaves: This plant has basal leaves only. Leaves can reach 30cm in length (12inches). Leaves can be as wide as 13 cm (5inches). There are usually two, sometimes three entire, oblanceolate leaves.
Flowers: The flowers have 6 Regular Parts and are up to 1cm long (0.4 inches). They are white. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into late spring. The small bell shaped flowers hang downward from an arching scape which may be sheathed with and appear part of the leaf stems. The scape is less than half as tall as the lowest leaf. The flowers are fragrant.
Fruit: Orange berries.
Habitat: Mountains with well drained soil.
Range: Mountains of Virginia and West Virginia south to Georgia.

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The names would imply that this is a plant of valleys. This is not the case. Look for it instead on wooded mountain slopes and ridges. It is believed by some that this is an earlier escaped variety of a slightly different form than the common garden Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis). The often extremely remote locations in which it is found and the fact that it is only known from a very limited range would argue against its being an escaped species.

Lore: In addition to the valid medical uses mentioned below the European species is used to make a yellow dye and extracts of the flowers are used in cosmetics. It was though by herbal practitioners to help improve a failing memory, cure gout and made into an ointment for external sores.

Medical Uses: All parts of this plant are considered poisonous. This plant contains several active cardiac glycosides. It is considered similar to digitalis in action but milder. Some herbal guides suggest self medication to stimulate the heart but this is dangerous. The berries which may be attractive to small children can cause paralysis and severe respiratory distress.

Similar Species: European Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is smaller and the flowers are higher in relation to the leaves. It is found in very dense stands where it has escaped flower beds.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Monocots / One Seed Leaf



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