Latin name: Convallaria majalis

Family: Liliaceae

With its clusters of white hanging flowers set against dark green leaves, lily-of-the-valley is a distinctive and easily recognisable plant. Its sweet-scented white flowers develop into red berries and all parts of the plant are toxic. Despite its poisonous properties, the flowers provide a popular fragrance for many toiletries and perfumes. In addition, the plant’s rhizomes have medicinal properties similar to those of foxgloves.

This species is spread by its rhizomes and as a result, when large groups of lily-of-the-valley appear, it may actually be a single plant, often of considerable age. There are reports of clone plants that are more than 670 years old.

In the British Isles, lily-of-the-valley thrives on calcareous soils but can also grow in more acidic conditions. It is a popular garden plant and in many places has been introduced into the countryside from garden habitats. It has a scattered distribution across England, Wales and up towards central Scotland.

It's rare to see lily-of-the-valley within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Where it does occur, it is confined to the areas with calcareous soils in the south and south-west of the National Park, in upland mixed ash woodlands and in the grikes of limestone pavements.

The best opportunities to see lily-of-the-valley in the National Park come in May and June when the plant is in flower.

Go to the A-Z of wildlife

Still summer’s song beats in my blood Alan Hartley

Facts at your fingertips