We depend on donations from users of our database of over 8000 edible and useful plants to keep making it available free of charge and to further extend and improve it. In recent months donations are down, and we are spending more than we receive. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Convallaria majalis - L.

Common Name Lily Of The Valley, European lily of the valley
Family Convallariaceae
USDA hardiness 2-7
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[7, 10, 19]. However, the toxic principle is very poorly absorbed when taken orally so poisoning is unlikely to occur[65]. The leaves can be a mild skin irritant[22]. Overdose may lead to nausea, vomiting, stupor, colour perception disorders, and cardiac arrhythmias. Internal use preparations no longer considered safe [301].
Habitats Dry shady woodland, usually on calcareous soils[7, 13, 17], and especially in ash woodlands[4].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia to Spain east to N.E. Asia, Greece and the Caucasus.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Convallaria majalis Lily Of The Valley,  European lily of the valley

Convallaria majalis Lily Of The Valley,  European lily of the valley


Translate this page:


Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Convallaria majalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Convallaria bracteata. Convallaria fragrans. Convallaria latifolia. Polygonatum majale.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

A wine can be prepared from the flowers, mixed with raisins[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antianxiety  Antiarrhythmic  Anticonvulsant  Antispasmodic  Cardiotonic  Diuretic  Emetic  Febrifuge  
Laxative  Poultice  Sedative

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[244]. However, because of the plants potential toxic properties it should never be used without expert advice[9]. All parts of the plant are antispasmodic, cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic, febrifuge, laxative and sedative[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 165, 222, 254]. The plant is usually harvested when in flower and can be dried for later use[4], though it is stronger acting when fresh[238]. The inflorescence is said to be the most active medicinally and is often harvested separately[4]. 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[4, 222, 254]. 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[254]. Its effect is less cumulative than digitalis which makes it safer for elderly patients[238]. It is often prescribed combined with the fruits of Crataegus spp[238]. An ointment made from the roots is used in the treatment of burns and to prevent scar tissue[222]. 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 (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Dye  Essential

An essential oil is obtained from the flowers[46, 171]. It is used in perfumery and for snuff[238]. A green dye is obtained from the leaves in spring[13, 14, 115]. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves in autumn[14]. Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland shade or in a shrubbery[200, 208]. As a garden ornamental it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Ground cover  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Erosion control, Ground cover, Massing, Specimen, Woodland. garden Succeeds in almost any situation, including the dense dry shade of large trees[1, 4, 24]. Prefers a position in semi-shade in a moderately fertile well-drained moist woodland soil[200, 208]. Grows well in heavy clay, sand or chalky soils[208]. Dislikes pure clay soils and boggy sites[233]. Plants are hardy to -20°c or lower[200]. A polymorphic species[200]. It is a very ornamental plant, though it can become very invasive once it is established[28]. Plants can take a couple of years to become established[208]. There are several named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[233]. The flowers are sweetly scented[245]. 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[233]. A good bee plant[4]. Special Features: Not North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers, Fragrant flowers.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe, otherwise in late winter, in a cold frame[164]. Germination, particularly of stored seed can be very slow, taking 2 - 12 months or more at 15°c[164]. 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[111]. 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

European lily of the valley, lily-of-the-valley

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, and Europe. In Europe it it largely avoids the Mediterranean and Atlantic margins. Convallaria majalis var. manschurica occurs in Japan and parts of eastern Asia. Convallaria majalis var. montana occurs in the Eastern United States.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Aspidistra elatiorAspidistra, Cast Iron PlantPerennial0.6 7-11 SLMHFSDM023
Clintonia borealisBluebeardPerennial0.3 3-7  LMFSM212
Clintonia udensis Perennial0.3 3-7  LMFSM20 
Clintonia umbellulataSpeckled Wood Lily, White clintoniaPerennial0.2 4-8  LMFSM20 
Convallaria keiskeiLily Of The ValleyPerennial0.3 3-7  LMHFSNDMWe102
Liriope graminifoliaLilyturfPerennial0.3 7-10  LMSNDM212
Liriope minor Perennial0.3 7-10  LMSNDM212
Liriope muscariLilyturf, Big blue lilyturf, Border Grass, Blue Lilyturf, LiriopePerennial0.3 5-10 SLMSNDM212
Liriope spicataLily Turf, Creeping liriope, Creeping LilyturfPerennial0.3 4-10 FLMSNDM212
Maianthemum canadenseCanada Beadruby, Canada mayflowerPerennial0.1 3-7 FLMHFSM112
Maianthemum dilatatumWild Lily Of The Valley, False lily of the valleyPerennial0.2 3-7  LMHFSM21 
Ophiopogon japonicusSnake's Beard, Dwarf lilyturf, Mondo Grass, Monkey Grass, Dwarf LilyturfPerennial0.3 7-11 SLMSNMWeWa232
Polygonatum biflorumSmall Solomon's SealPerennial1.0 3-7  LMHFSM212
Polygonatum cirrhifolium Perennial1.2 -  LMHFSM22 
Polygonatum commutatumKing Solomon's Seal, Smooth Solomon's sealPerennial2.0 4-8  LMHFSM211
Polygonatum cyrtonema Perennial0.0 -  LMHFSM02 
Polygonatum falcatum Perennial0.6 4-8  LMHFSDM210
Polygonatum humile Perennial0.3 4-8  LMHFSM21 
Polygonatum inflatum Perennial0.6 -  LMHFSM21 
Polygonatum involucratum Perennial0.3 -  LMHFSM20 
Polygonatum kingianum Perennial2.0 -  LMHFSM02 
Polygonatum lasianthum Perennial0.6 -  LMHFSM20 
Polygonatum macropodum Perennial1.0 -  LMHFSM21 
Polygonatum maximowiczii Perennial1.0 -  LMHFSM20 
Polygonatum multiflorumSolomon's Seal, Eurasian Solomon's sealPerennial1.2 4-8  LMHFSDM233
Polygonatum odoratumSolomon's SealPerennial0.9 4-8 MLMHFSDM23 
Polygonatum odoratum thunbergii Perennial0.5 4-8  LMHFSM20 
Polygonatum pubescensHairy Solomon's SealPerennial1.0 3-7  LMHFSM21 
Polygonatum sibiricumHuang JingPerennial1.0 3-7  LMHFSM221

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

MANISH GUPTA   Sun Mar 2 17:22:45 2003

We are looking for seeds of Convallaria majalis

MJS   Thu Nov 15 2007

At least, from Finland you can buy them, it's national flower anyway...

   Jul 5 2011 12:00AM

In our country (slovenija) ther have been several death poisoning by thid plant, because people mix the leaves with edible Allium ursinum. I think that the plant is more poisonous that is mentioned in an article. But it maybe can vary depending on country.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Convallaria majalis  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.