First, a green stem emerges from the rhizome, and only later do small bells appear hidden among the large green leaves. This is how the lily of the valley blooms, enticing with its delicate fragrance. Its beautiful white flowers have been a symbol of innocence for centuries.
Spring is the time of flowering plants and herbs, awakening after the cold winter period. The lily of the valley can be found in backyard gardens as well as in forests, usually in oak groves or mixed forests. It spreads in patches because it primarily propagates through rhizomes. The plant is also known as the woodland lily, May lily, or muguet. It grows to a small size, usually no more than 20 cm. The fruit of the lily of the valley is initially green and then turns red.
The Medicinal Uses of the Flower
The lily of the valley is mainly used in the treatment of heart diseases. It also has calming and supportive effects for rheumatism and memory problems. The flower improves brain function and has a gentle diuretic effect. It alleviates menopausal symptoms, relieves headaches, and the glycosides in the lily of the valley also improve blood circulation in muscles and the brain, which is helpful for memory disorders or tendencies to faint. It also aids in insomnia and anxiety.
The flower has also found its application in cosmetics – it soothes skin irritations and helps combat acne and dandruff. Meanwhile, the essential oil obtained from the lily of the valley is a common ingredient in perfumes.
However, it should be noted that the line between medicine and poison can be very thin, so it is not recommended to process lily of the valley at home or consume homemade tinctures.
Is the plant Poisonous?
Although it appears beautiful and innocent, it is unfortunately a highly toxic plant. All parts of the plant – leaves, flowers, stems, and especially the red berries – are highly poisonous. Since the glycosides in the lily of the valley affect the heart, disturbances in its rhythm may occur in case of poisoning. The more toxins enter the gastrointestinal tract, the more dangerous the consequences of lily of the valley poisoning can be. Due to its toxicity, it should be kept away from children.
Symptoms such as chest tightness, nausea, diarrhoea, visual disturbances, and dizziness occur as a result. In cases of severe poisoning and the lack of immediate medical help, cardiac arrest and death of the patient can occur.
Fortunately, the taste of it does not encourage consumption. Unfortunately, lily of the valley poisonings most commonly occur in children – the white bell-shaped flowers attract the attention of little ones. It is worth knowing that even water in which cut lilies of the valley have stood is toxic.
Cultivating Lily of the Valley in the Garden
Cultivated in the garden, they usually bloom in May. To ensure their proper development, they should be planted in humus-rich, moist soil with good permeability. It is advisable to choose a more shaded location, as the lily of the valley thrives best in gentle shade, similar to its natural habitat.