Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)

Botanical Name : Convallaria majalis
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Convallaria
Species: C. majalis
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms : Convallaria bracteata. Convallaria fragrans. Convallaria latifolia. Polygonatum majale.

Common Name :Lily of the Valley

Other names:  May lily, May bells, lily constancy, ladder-to-heaven, male lily, and muguet (French). In Bulgarian and Macedonian it’s called Momuha, meaning “lass’s tear”.

Habitat :Lily of the Valley native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and in the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States.Grows in Dry shady woodland, usually on calcareous soils , and especially in ash woodlands

Description:
Lily of the Valley is a herbaceous perennial plant that forms extensive colonies by spreading underground stems called rhizomes. New upright shoots are formed at the ends of stolons in summer,  these upright dormant stems are often called pips.   These grow in the spring into new leafy shoots that still remain connected to the other shoots under ground, often forming extensive colonies. The stems grow to 15–30 cm tall, with one or two leaves 10–25 cm long, flowering stems have two leaves and a raceme of 5–15 flowers on the stem apex. The flowers are white tepals (rarely pink), bell-shaped, 5–10 mm diameter, and sweetly scented; flowering is in late spring, in mild winters in the Northern Hemisphere it is in early March. The fruit is a small orange-red berry 5–7 mm diameter that contains a few large whitish to brownish colored seeds that dry to a clear translucent round bead 1–3 mm wide. Plants are self-sterile, and colonies consisting of a single clone do not set seed

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES. >..…(01)..…  .(1)....(2)…….(.3)……….(4)...(5)..…….

Cultivation:   Succeeds in almost any situation, including the dense dry shade of large trees. Prefers a position in semi-shade in a moderately fertile well-drained moist woodland soil. Grows well in heavy clay, sand or chalky soils. Dislikes pure clay soils and boggy sites. Plants are hardy to -20°c or lower. A polymorphic species. It is a very ornamental plant, though it can become very invasive once it is established. Plants can take a couple of years to become established. There are several named varieties, selected for their ornamental value. The flowers are sweetly scented. 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. A good bee plant.

Propagation :      Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe, otherwise in late winter, in a cold frame. Germination, particularly of stored seed can be very slow, taking 2 – 12 months or more at 15°c. 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. Division in September. 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.
Medicinal Uses:
Antispasmodic;  Cardiotonic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Febrifuge;  Laxative;  Poultice;  Sedative.

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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. However, because of the plants potential toxic properties it should never be used without expert advice. All parts of the plant are antispasmodic, cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic, febrifuge, laxative and sedative. The plant is usually harvested when in flower and can be dried for later use, though it is stronger acting when fresh. The inflorescence is said to be the most active medicinally and is often harvested separately. 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. 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. Its effect is less cumulative than digitalis which makes it safer for elderly patients. It is often prescribed combined with the fruits of Crataegus spp. An ointment made from the roots is used in the treatment of burns and to prevent scar tissue. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Convallaria majalis : Lily Of The Valley for arrhythmia, cardiac insufficiency, nervous heart complaints  for critics of commission

Lily of the Valley is perhaps the most valuable heart remedy used today.  It is used for nervous sensitivity, neurasthenia, apoplexy, epilepsy, dropsy, valvular heart diseases, heart pains and heart diseases in general.  It has an action equivalent to Foxglove without its potential toxic effects.  Lily of the Valley may be used in the treatment of heart failure and water retention where this is associated with the heart.  It will aid the body where there is difficulty with breathing due to congestive conditions of the heart.  Also used for arteriosclerosis with angina and arterial hypotension.  Lily of the Valley encourages the heart to beat more slowly regularly and efficiently.  It is also strongly diuretic, reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure.  It is better tolerated than foxglove, since it does not accumulate within the body to the same degree.  Relatively low doses are required to support heart rate and rhythm, and to increase urine production.  An ointment made from the roots is used in the treatment of burns and to prevent scar tissue.

Other Uses:
Its scientific name, majalis or maialis, means “of or belonging to May”, and old astrological books place the plant under the dominion of Mercury, since Maia, the daughter of Atlas, was the mother of Mercury or Hermes.

In the “language of flowers”, the lily of the valley signifies the return of happiness. Legend tells of the affection of a lily of the valley for a nightingale that did not come back to the woods until the flower bloomed in May.

Use in weddings
Duchess of Cambridge with bridal bouquet featuring Lily of the Valley   is a popular flower for weddings,although it can be very expensive. Lily of the Valley was featured in the bridal bouquet at the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleto….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURE

An essential oil is obtained from the flowers. It is used in perfumery and for snuff. A green dye is obtained from the leaves in spring. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves in autumn. Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland shade or in a shrubber.

Known Hazards:  All parts of the plant are poisonous. However, the toxic principle is very poorly absorbed when taken orally so poisoning is unlikely to occur. The leaves can be a mild skin irritant. Overdose may lead to nausea, vomiting, stupor, colour perception disorders, and cardiac arrhythmias. Internal use preparations no longer considered safe.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_of_the_Valley
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Convallaria+majalis

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