This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(old name Lilium convallium, derived from convallis, a valley). Lilidceae. Lily-of-the-Valley. A dainty herb, much prized for its erect racemes of white delicately-scented flowers; perennial.
Leaves radical, from a horizontal rootstock, producing upright parts or pips (Fig. 1044): flowers white (sometimes pink-tinged), small and short-bell-shaped, with short blunt recurved lobes, nodding, in a short, radical, raceme (Fig. 1045), the stamens 6 included, style 1 (Fig. 1046): fruit a globular small few-seeded red berry. -Commonly considered to be only one species, native in Asia, Eu., and in the higher mts., Va. to S. C; of several similar races or types.
Fig. 1044. Lily-of-the-valley pip.
Fig. 1045. Raceme of Lily-of-the-valley.
Fig. 1046. Section of flower of lily-of-the-valley, laid open to show the parts. (X2)
Lily-of-the-valley is much prized for its delicate, sweet-scented flowers. The rhizome and roots are sold in drug-stores: they are poisonous in large doses; in small doses used as a heart tonic. The plant is popularly supposed to be the one referred to in the Sermon on the Mount, but this is not to be determined. It is essentially a shade-loving plant. The species is C. majalis, Linn. Leaves oblong or oval, thick and persisting till autumn, forming a dense sod, plane, with more or less bloom: racemes 5-10 in. high: berry 1/4in. diam. R.H. 1886: 84. Gn. 47, p. 179; 52:182 and p. 319 (the latter in fruit). A.F. 13:402. Gng. 5:56-7. F.R. 2:4. G.C. III. 23: 149 (variety grandiflora). Lowe, 42 (var variegata).
The plant is hardy, and is easily grown in partially shaded places and moderately rich ground. Old beds are liable to run out. The roots and runners become crowded, and few good flower-stems are produced. It is best to replant the beds every few years with vigorous fresh clumps, which have been grown for the purpose in some out-of-the-way place. Five or six strong pips, with their side growths, planted close together, will form a good clump in two years if not allowed to spread too much. The mats of clean foliage make attractive carpets under trees and in other shady places. If the bed is made rich and top-dressed every fall, it may give good results for four or five years; and plants in such beds thrive in full sunshine. One form has prettily striped foliage, very ornamental in the early part of the season. Lilies-of-the-valley bloom early in spring. They run wild in many old yards, in cemeteries, and along shady road-sides. There are double-flowered forms; also one (variety prolificans) with racemes 2 feet long. (J. B. Keller.)
Recent studies of this genus by E. L. Greene, have distinguished 3 other species: C. japonica, Greene, representing the Japanese form of the plant: rootstock very short and stout: leaves 2 only, sub-equal, elliptic, cuspidately acute, bright green with no trace of bloom on either surface: peduncle short, about equaling the bases of the leaves; raceme few-fid., the bracts small, ovate-lanceolate; perianth widely opening, broadly bell-shaped or almost saucer-shaped; stamens large, very short, the very obtuse anthers longer than the filaments. - C. globosa, Greene. Herbage light green, without trace of bloom: leaves with a more fibrous and less fleshy anatomy than those of C. majalis, and of shorter duration, disappearing by the end of summer: perianth urn-shaped (not bell-shaped); stamens inserted about the middle of the perianth, extending horizontally (rather than vertically, as in C. majalis). Probably.N. C., but described from plants growing in a wild garden in Washington, D. C.; later-blooming than C. majalis. - C. majuscula, Greene. Differs from C. majalis in its very large light green leaves, which have no trace of bloom and an excessively fibrous anatomy which makes the growing If. to look plicate; more than twice larger than C. majalis, later-blooming: perianth broadly bell-shaped; filaments very short, nearly hypogynous, erect; anthers large, oblong, obtuse, cordate at base.
S.E. Pa., and southward L. H. B.