lily of the valley

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lily of the valley,

common name for either of the two species of Convallaria, spring-blooming perennials of the family Liliaceae (lilylily,
common name for the Liliaceae, a plant family numbering several thousand species of as many as 300 genera, widely distributed over the earth and particularly abundant in warm temperate and tropical regions.
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 family). C. majalis, the species usually in cultivation, is native to Eurasia; C. montana, a slightly larger plant, grows in the Appalachian Mts. Lilies of the valley live in shady places and have delicate bell-shaped, fragrant white flowers growing on a stalk between two shiny leaves. The plant was long used medicinally for cardiac disorders and contains poisonous substances. It is a symbol of humility in religious painting. Lily of the valley is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Liliopsida, order Liliales, family Liliaceae.

Lily of the Valley

 

(Convallaria), a genus of plants of the family Liliaceae. There is one species, C. majalis, with several varieties or subspecies, which are sometimes classified as independent species. The lily of the valley is an herbaceous perennial with a horizontal rootstock and two or three oblong-oval, pointed leaves with long petioles. The flower stalk, up to 20 cm tall, has a secund loose raceme of white, fragrant, bell-shaped, drooping flowers; the perianth has six lobes. The fruit is a spherical red berry. Lilies of the valley are widely found in the European USSR, the Caucasus, Eastern Siberia, and the Far East, as well as in Western Europe and North America. They grow profusely in light forests, on forest edges, and in shrub thickets.

The species C. majalis is used as a medicinal plant. Its above-ground parts contain cardiac glycosides (chiefly convallatoxin and convallarin), which intensify the contractile activity of the heart. An infusion of the plant is used, as well as the crystalline glycoside convallotoxin and corglykon, an extract containing all the glycosides of the lily of the valley. It is cultivated as an ornamental, chiefly for forcing, but also in gardens and parks. Cultivated forms of C. majalis are large and multiflowered. Some varieties have pinkish or double flowers, and some have mottled leaves.

O. M. POLETIKO

lily of the valley

of Finland. [Flower Symbolism: WB, 7: 264]

lily of the valley

a small liliaceous plant, Convallaria majalis, of Eurasia and North America cultivated as a garden plant, having two long oval leaves and spikes of white bell-shaped flowers