Convallaria Majalis

Depsite its name, lily-of-the-valley can especially be found in woods, especially dryer parts. It has cute, small white, bell-shaped flowers, but at the same time is poisonous.

The name majalis means as much as ‘that which belongs to May’.  Astrological books place the plant under Mercury, because the goddess Maia is the mother of the god Mercury. According to myth the plant was actually found by Apollo and then given to the healer god Aesclepius. It is in fact still known for its medical purposes, espically when it comes to heart diseases. In older times, wine was made from this flower, which was considered to have all kinds of healing properties. Again, we see how a plant can both be poison and medicine, depending on how you use it.

Ms Grieve writes about St Leonard’s Forest in Sussex, which is named after St Leonard who fought a dragon in that place. He was badly wounded, and anywhere blood fell, a lily-of-the-vally appeared. Grieve’s text says that St Leonard’s forest is known for its many Lilies-of-the-valley, but don’t know if that is still true today.


Ms M. Grieve. A Modern Herbal.