Lily Of The Valley

Convallaria majalis

Herbs gallery - Lily Of The Valley

Common names

  • Ladder-to-heaven
  • Lily Convalle
  • Lily of the Valley
  • May Lily
  • Our-Lady's-tears
The plant commonly called the lily of the valley is a nice-looking perennial that can reach a height of about nine inches or twenty three cm when fully grown. The morphology of the lily of the valley consists of a pair of elliptically shaped leaves, with many clusters of distinct bell shaped and white colored flowers along one side of the stem, and distinctive red berries in the fruiting season. The bell shaped flowers of the plant are very familiar to floral enthusiasts and while they are certainly small and unspectacular, they are very sweetly perfumed and are a universally well liked flowers. The lily of the valley is a very hardy plant and it can very readily adapt to a wide range of growing conditions in the wild, the plant is quite common now in the north American country side and even though the sturdy little herb thrives is not a native it thrives on neglected waste grounds and has escaped from many gardens to become a common plant in North America. The lily of the valley is a native flower of the European continent, where it has been the subject of many traditional legends and herbal superstitions. The flowers of the lily of the valley become symbolic of the Virgin Mary, the white flowers suggestive of chastity and purity, the flowers are commonly called Our Lady's tears, and they are a common theme in many paintings of the Virgin done in Europe during the renaissance and later. The name ladder to heaven was given to the plant by medieval monks who saw the even step like arrangement of the flowers along the stalk as symbolic of steps to heaven. Birds like the nightingales are said to be attracted to the fragrance of the flowers. The use of the blossoms of the lily of the valley was recommended by many traditional herbalists as far back as the 16th century, the flowers would be steeped in hot water as a remedy to being ease from the symptoms of gout and added to wine as it was believed to strengthen the memory - it was also used to soothe inflammation in the eyes of patients. Golden water was the term applied to these traditional remedies, such herbal remedies were very highly valued and were normally stored in gold or silver vessels as a mark of their power. The traditional and ancient use of the herb for treating ailments of the heart is regarded as having merit. The lily of the valley is believed to strengthen the beating of the heart similar to the action of the foxglove herb, while its effects are said to be milder and thus safer. Medical supervision is required when using the lily of the valley remedy to treat heart problems.

Parts used

Leaves, flowers.


European herbalists of today use the remedy made from the lily of the valley in place of the foxglove herb. A profound and intense effect is exerted by these herbs in cases of heart failure; the herbs are helpful if the condition is due to long term cardio vascular problems or a result of a chronic lung problem like emphysema in the patients. Heartbeat is slowed down by the remedy made from the lily of the valley; the herb also induces regularity and efficiency in the strokes. The lily of the valley is also capable of reducing blood volume and blood pressure due to its strong diuretic effects on the body. As an herbal remedy, the lily of the valley is much better tolerated by patients than that made from the foxglove - this is because the remedy made from the lily of the valley does not accumulate inside the body of the patients to the same degree as the related foxglove medication. Heart rate and cardiac rhythm are supported by even relatively low doses of the herbal remedy - it also increases urine production in the kidney at the same time. This herb has an established reputation and has been used in herbal medicine to treat disorders related to the heart. This plant encloses the vital glycosides convallamarin and convallarin, which work as potent tonics for the cardiac system, in addition to possessing diuretic attributes. Some allopathic medicines also contain these glycosides. Nevertheless, the lily of the valley may possibly have toxic properties and, therefore, this herb should never be used without consulting your physician or an expert practitioner of herbal medicine. The entire plant possesses cardiotonic, antispasmodic, febrifuge, emetic, potently diuretic, laxative and tranquilizing attributes. Normally, the lily of the valley plant is harvested when it is in bloom. While the plant is more potent when used fresh, you may dry out the herb and store it for future use. Since the inflorescence of the plant is considered to have the maximum therapeutic value, it is sometimes harvested individually. The infusion prepared using the flowers and roots of lily of the valley is an effective substitute for digitalis (which is obtained from plants belonging to the Digitalis species). Although comparatively less potent than digitalis, these infusions are particularly effective in treating diseases related to the valvula, weakness of the heart, dropsy as well as persistent problems related to the lungs, for instance, emphysema. The cumulative actions of these infusions prepared with lily of the valley roots and flowers are less compared to digitalis and this is why it is considered to be a safe remedy for aged patients. Frequently, herbal medicine practitioners recommend this herb in conjunction with hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) fruits. The roots of lily of the valley are used to prepare a balm that is employed for treating burn injuries as well as for putting off scar tissues. The therapeutic handbook for herbal medicines German Commission E Monographs has endorsed using lily of the valley for treating conditions like cardiac insufficiency, arrhythmia and nervous heart problems.

Culinary uses

The flowers of lily of the valley are blended with raisins to prepare a wine.

Habitat and cultivation

This herb is commonly found all over North America and northern Asia, even though it is native to Europe - it has escaped into the wild from gardens in the new world and Asia. The attractive flowers of the lily of the valley have led to wide spread cultivation of the herb as a garden plant in many herbaria around the world. Harvesting of the leaves and flowers is carried out when the floral blooms occur late in spring. The herb lily of the valley is generally propagated by its seeds, which are preferably sown immediately when they are ripened. Alternately, the seeds may also be sown in a cold frame during the latter part of winter. It takes a long period for the seeds to germinate, especially those that have been stored for some time. It may take anything between two months to a year or even more when the temperature is maintained a 15�C. The seeds need to be sown in a manner that they are just covered by soil. This is important to enable the seedlings to grow freely in the containers during the first year of their existence. In order to make sure that the seedlings are receiving the required nourishment, it is advisable that you provide them with any suitable liquid feed throughout their growing season. Transplant them into their permanent positions outdoors when they are dormant. This species can also be propagated by root division - an extremely simple process. While you may replant the comparatively larger clumps outdoors in their permanent locations, it is preferable to grow the smaller clumps in pots. You need to continue growing them in a cold frame till they have established roots. You may transplant the young herbs into their permanent positions outdoors during the spring.


Lily of the valley herb contains cardiac glycosides, including the convalloside, cardenolides convallotoxin, convallatoxol, and others, and flavonoid glycosides. The cardiac glycosides act to strengthen a weakened heart.

Usual dosage

Medical supervision from qualified professionals is required when supplements of the lily of the valley are being used by a patient.

Side effects and cautions

Before you use the lily of the valley herb for any purpose, you ought to know that the entire plant is extremely poisonous, counting its fruits (red berries) that children may often find attractive. Even ingesting a very small amount of any part of this plant may result in vomiting, pain in the abdominal region as well as a slower heart rate. In addition, the leaves of this plant may cause mild irritation to the skin and, hence, it is advisable that you avoid contact with them. The herb lily of the valley also encloses saponins. Despite being poisonous, folk medicine has used this plant moderately and presently it is being only employed by herbalists.

Collection and harvesting

The flowers and the leaves of the lily of the valley are harvested in May or June of the growing season for preparation of the various remedies.


An excellent combination remedy can be made from the lily of the valley mixed with the motherwort and hawthorn herbs.