View Full Version : Does anyone know about a flower called the Lilly of the Valley?

06-01-2005, 04:55 PM
Granted I love nature but when it comes to knowing things about plants, I haven't got a clue. I don't keep live plants in my house because I lack a green thumb and I fear I would kill it. I am the kind of person that If someone pointed to a tree and asked me what it was I'd say, "It's a tree." ... know what I mean?

If anyone knows anything about the Lilly of the Valley please share your knowledge with me. I know I could do a Google search but my gut told me to ask about it here.


06-01-2005, 05:04 PM
They smell good, they're poisonous, they do better above the Mason-Dixon line, they spread, the further south they are, the more shade they prefer....what else would you like to know?

06-01-2005, 05:04 PM
I, too, have a black thumb. All I know is what I read.

The lily of the valley: (acc. to Webster's)...

a perennial plant of the lily family that grows in the shade and has a single pair of basal, oblong leaves and a single leafless raceme (stem?) of very fragrant, small, white, bell-shaped flowers. (Also mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:1, allegorically describing Christ).

Brainerd T.
06-01-2005, 05:04 PM
I think it is very fragile, but I'm not even sure about that.

06-01-2005, 05:06 PM
Aren't they pretty? We were in Paris for May Day 2 years ago and my husband bought me some on the street.... I pressed them. They still smell SO good.

06-01-2005, 05:18 PM
Hummm the flowers are much shorter in length than I thought they would be. They are beautiful tho!

Unique said that they are poisonous so I guess eating them is out of the question.

I didn't tell why I wanted to know about them did I? .. sorry about that. I heard the name last night and wanted to know more about the plant in general. Why my gut told me to ask here first *shrug* I don't know but since this seems to be a safe hunch to follow up on, I thought I'd take advantage of doing so.

06-01-2005, 05:25 PM
I used to be nurseryman in my previous life....I still have many, many books on the subject. I'd be happy to dig them out of their boxes any time you have a question. My subjects of choice were: perennials, medicinals, and flowering shrubs. (They're still in boxes because I moved and sold my bookcases, but not the books) Duh, me....

06-01-2005, 05:29 PM
Thank you Unique. The question that stands out in my mind right now is, do the flowers always hang over like that and if so, why?

06-01-2005, 05:34 PM
Yes, they do. Each flower droops like a bell. When the stalk is fully developed, the weight of each flower tends to make the whole thing droop a bit. (And yes, there are technical names for those parts, but naming them would require me to think - - I'm not up to that at the moment unless pressed....)

06-01-2005, 05:41 PM
I saw them at the garden shop last week. Beautiful flowers.

06-01-2005, 05:48 PM
I appreciate the feedback about them.

Saritams8 said they smell good. This is driving me crazy. lol I will have to go see if I can find some just so I can see them and smell them.

06-01-2005, 05:55 PM
They do smell wonderful. Lily of the Valley used to be a fairly common cologne or 'toilet water' scent. From the French, 'toilette'; not American commode. 'Toilet water' still cracks me up - though you don't see that word much any more. (Is my 'ancient age' showing now?)

06-01-2005, 05:58 PM
my toilet water smells like crap.

06-01-2005, 06:11 PM
:popcorn: When I was a little girl, (about the civil war time), I used to pick these for my teachers when in grade school. They grew wild in an alley way along with violets. I used to do this in the springtime and the smell was light and sweet. :popcorn:

06-01-2005, 06:24 PM
my toilet water smells like crap.

You're supposed to flush it once in a while, Ray. Totally different type of water than 'Eau de Toillette' water...

06-01-2005, 06:31 PM
They are a bell shaped flower and very small, often hanging on rows, Quite a humble woodland plant but the smell is divine.

06-01-2005, 06:35 PM
Does anyone know why this plant is called The Lilly of the Valley?

06-01-2005, 06:36 PM
Probably something religious.

06-01-2005, 06:39 PM
My best guess would be something like because some settlers first found them in a valley.

06-01-2005, 06:42 PM
The lily of the valley has been used in the past for medicinal purposes, despite the fact that all parts of the plant are poisonous. In Renaissance-era texts it was listed as a cure for aphasia (lack of speech) and gout, and also believed to help people develop common sense when smeared on the forehead. It was also used to help improve the memory.

There's some interesting folklore behind this plant as well. I've heard it referred to as Jacob's tears or ladder to heaven, and I think it is supposed to have something to do with the second coming of Christ. They're also called Mary's tears because supposedly, when Mary cried at the crucifixion, her tears turned to little white bell-shaped flowers.

There is also a story that lilies of the valley pop up to signal the death of a dragon, which I think is kind of a cool legend. I think it has something to do with the legend of a saint -- Leonard, maybe? -- but I can't remember specifics.

06-01-2005, 06:42 PM
Many plants have legends associated with them. Ray's correct....Lily of the Valley are also called Mary's Tears, the reference to do with her tears changing to these flowers at the foot of the Cross.

06-01-2005, 06:48 PM
That's different and very interesting.

I just realized that I was spelling Lily wrong!

06-01-2005, 06:58 PM
It is a lily and thrives in shady spots like valleys and glens--so I imgaine the name is unromantically literal.

06-01-2005, 08:03 PM
They will spread all over your garden if you let them. Right now is prime blooming time for our area. The scent is not too sweet and not too heavy. Their meaning include:

Tears of the Virgin Mary
Return to Happiness
You've Made My Life Complete
Let's forgive and be happy again

Avon used to make a nice cologne with the scent.

A nice flower, all around.


06-01-2005, 08:05 PM
Are these related to bleeding hearts? The droop of the flower is similar.

I'm from the desert southwest--all this green stuff is still pretty alien to me, even though I've lived in green and fertile lands for 20 years now. One day I will learn to identify all the trees in my yard! (Right now they're The Willow-ish One, That Big One with the Fungus, The One that Broke the TV Cable, and other meaningful names.)

If you want to know what kind of cactus you got, though, I might be able to help.


06-01-2005, 08:10 PM
Different plant family. They do bloom about the same time in the Great Lakes Region. Bleeding Hearts have no smell, though...

06-02-2005, 11:07 AM
In France for the first of May it is tradition to give these flowers which now celebrate Labor Day.
The flower came to France from Japan in the middle ages and became a symbol for the spring. Charles the ninth proclamed the giving of lily of the valley in 1561 brought good luck so the tradition started.
At the end of the nineteenth century it became a symbol for the workers in Paris who claimed the right to divide the working day equally into three parts. Work, sleep and leisure. Initially they wore a red triangle on their shirts representing the three parts of the day which was replaced by the lily of the valley tied with a red ribbon.
The first of May was chosen in Paris to commemorate the deaths in Chicago of protesters claiming similar work conditions.
Each year in France it's a big thing.

Hope this helps.

06-02-2005, 04:31 PM
Oswann that is very interesting information. I never realized how much history flowers can have. It seems there is always more than meets the eye to most things.