Lily of the Valley – Convallaria majalis

Lily of the Valley flowers
Lily of the Valley flowers

Sweetest of the flowers a-blooming
In the fragrant vernal days
Is the Lily of the Valley
With its soft, retiring ways…

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

 

This perennial rhizomous are native of Asia, and Europe with a limited native population in the Eastern US. This plant produces one or two leaves; the flowering stems following leaf development in April. The stems produce 5 – 15 bell shaped flowers that are sweetly scented.

As a little girl I fully believed the “little People” carried these around in spring, making the bells ring to announce the beginning of spring. I also believed if I was good, and watched carefully, without making noise or being restless I would see some of them dancing around with flowers on their heads as caps!

Since ancient times this plant has been used for medicine. In the fourth century AD Apuleius (an author of novels as well as an herbal, political works, etc) declares in his Herbal that this flower was found by Apollo and given to Aesculapius the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greece.

This plant contains 38 different cardiac glycosides and therefore has been useful in the treatment of valvular heart disease, cardiac debility and dropsy. Although it is less powerful, its actions in the body resemble those of Foxglove but with less toxicity problems. That is not to say that it is not toxic, for the cardiac glycosides do make it highly toxic. The symptoms of toxicity are irregular and slowed pulse, and abdominal pain with diarrhea.

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One response to this post.

  1. I’m not sure exactly why but this blog is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on
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    Reply

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