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Toxic parts

All parts of the plant are poisonous[1][2][3]. However, the toxic principle is very poorly absorbed when taken orally so poisoning is unlikely to occur[4]. The leaves can be a mild skin irritant[5].

Edible uses


A wine can be prepared from the flowers, mixed with raisins[6].
There are no edible uses listed for Convallaria majalis.

Material uses

An essential oil is obtained from the flowers[7][8]. It is used in perfumery and for snuff[9].

A green dye is obtained from the leaves in spring[10][11][12]. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves in autumn[11].

Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland shade or in a shrubbery[13][14].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Lily of the valley has a long and proven reputation in herbal medicine in the treatment of heart complaints. It contains the glycosides convallarin and convallamarin which are powerful cardiac tonics and diuretics and are also used in allopathic medicine[15]. However, because of the plants potential toxic properties it should never be used without expert advice[16].

All parts of the plant are antispasmodic, cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic, febrifuge, laxative and sedative[17][1][16][18][7][19][20][21]. The plant is usually harvested when in flower and can be dried for later use[17], though it is stronger acting when fresh[9]. The inflorescence is said to be the most active medicinally and is often harvested separately[17]. An infusion of the flowers and roots is a digitalis substitute (obtained from Digitalis species), though less powerful, that is especially useful in the treatment of valvula heart diseases, cardiac debility, dropsy and chronic lung problems such as emphysema[17][20][21]. Lily of the valley encourages the heart to beat more slowly, regularly and efficiently, at the same time it is strongly diuretic, reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure[21]. Its effect is less cumulative than digitalis which makes it safer for elderly patients[9]. It is often prescribed combined with the fruits of Crataegus spp[9].

An ointment made from the roots is used in the treatment of burns and to prevent scar tissue[20].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe, otherwise in late winter, in a cold frame[22]. Germination, particularly of stored seed can be very slow, taking 2 - 12 months or more at 15°c[22]. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be allowed to grow on undisturbed in the pot for their first year. Apply a liquid feed during the growing season to ensure that the seedlings are well fed. Divide the young plants into individual pots when they die down in late summer and grow them on in pots in a shady position in a cold frame for at least another year before planting them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant[K]. Division in September[23]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Convallaria majalis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in almost any situation, including the dense dry shade of large trees[24][17][25]. Prefers a position in semi-shade in a moderately fertile well-drained moist woodland soil[13][14]. Grows well in heavy clay, sand or chalky soils[14]. Dislikes pure clay soils and boggy sites[26].

Plants are hardy to -20°c or lower[13]. A polymorphic species[13]. It is a very ornamental plant, though it can become very invasive once it is established[27]. Plants can take a couple of years to become established[14]. There are several named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[26]. The flowers are sweetly scented[28]. Lily of the valley is occasionally cultivated as a medicinal plant for herbalists and allopaths. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[26].

A good bee plant[17].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Convallaria majalis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Convallaria majalis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Convallaria majalis
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    "image:Convallaria_majalis_0002.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Convallaria_majalis_0002.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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    1. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Altmann. H. Poisonous Plants and Animals. Chatto and Windus ISBN 0-7011-2526-8 (1980-00-00)
    3. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    4. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods. ()
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    10. ? 10.010.1 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
    11. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    13. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    14. ? Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    16. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    17. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    20. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    21. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    22. ? 22.022.1 Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4. Thompson and Morgan. (1990-00-00)
    23. ? Sanders. T. W. Popular Hardy Perennials. Collingridge (1926-00-00)
    24. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    25. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
    26. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    27. ? Knight. F. P. Plants for Shade. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0-900629-78-9 (1980-00-00)
    28. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
    29. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)

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