Lily-of-the-valley

©Philip Precey

Lily-of-the-valley

Scientific name: Convallaria majalis
A beautifully scented plant, the arching stems and bell-shaped flowers of Lily-of-the-valley can be seen in many woodlands. Despite its delicate appearance, this plant is highly toxic.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 20cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to June

About

Lily-of-the-valley is a pretty woodland plant with arching stems carrying nodding, white bells in May and June. Famous for its beautiful scent, it can be found in woodlands on both limestone and more acidic soils. Yet, its breathtaking fragrance and delicate flowers belie a much more poisonous nature - all parts of this plant are deadly, including the red berries that appear after the flowers.

How to identify

Lily-of-the-valley has large, glossy, oval leaves that are borne in pairs and often carpet the ground. White flowers, shaped like little bells, dangle from arched stems.

Distribution

Most common in England and parts of Scotland and Wales.

Did you know?

The fragrant, spring flowers of Lily-of-the-valley are a joy in any wildlife garden. Tolerating shade, this plant spreads quickly using rhizomes (underground stems) so provides good ground cover beneath hedges and trees.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.