poetry and prose about place

Wild Lily-of-the-Valley (Maianthemum canadense Desf.)

with 14 comments

This time of year, the floor of our Grey Woods is carpeted in the leaves and blooms of Wild Lily-of-the-Valley (Maianthemum canadense Desf.).  The leaves first poke through the dry leaves in mid-April and literally unfurl …

By May the forming flowers are visible…

… by late-May they are in full bloom.

I cannot get a good photo of a white flower, but this shows their star-like quality

The Wild Lily-of-the-Valley, also known as False Lily-of-the-Valley and Canada Mayflower, grows in woods and clearings, and is one of the first plants to appear in the coniferous woods understory.  The leaves are heart-shaped, cleft to fit around the floral stem.  Flowers are white, contained in a compact elliptical raceme.  Each little flower is four-pointed.

The berries of Maianthemum canadense are edible, first appearing as whitish-green with small spots and gradually turning to red.


This post is dedicated to Barbara Rodger’s mother, who loved Lily-of-the-Valley, the flower the Wild Lily-of-the-Valley gently resembles!



Wild Lily-of-the-Valley

             – Maianthemum canadense Desf.


slim emerald flames

burn through dry leaves,

ignite sparklers

of stamen stars,

puffs of smoke,

white berries heat to red

embers in forest




1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
©  Jane Tims  2012

14 Responses

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  1. Thank you so much, Jane, for the lovely photos and your wonderful drawing of the Wild Lily-of-the-Valley! And especially for the dedication to my mother… I had no idea the berries were edible. I love the line describing “…sparklers of stamen stars…”

    I’m very sorry I didn’t see this post until today – I’m so far behind checking my email notifications from the blogosphere. I allowed myself to get caught up in ancestry research in May and then we had a few crises with my dad and my aunt to get through – it’s amazing how fast time flies and what other things get neglected when we’re trying to cope with caring for the very elderly. I hope you know how much I appreciate your very thoughtful and kind gesture! It has lifted my spirits considerably today!


    Barbara Rodgers

    July 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    • Hi Barbara. I’m glad you liked the post. As for getting sidetracked on geneology, I have had whole years lost to the most fastinating subject… my own history. We drove all the way to Wyoming just to see where my great-grandmother was married!!!! Have a great day!!!! Jane


      jane tims

      July 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

  2. Jane, I love the effects of your coloured pencils (or pens). They have an iridescent quality, especially used solo with the black and white.


    Jane Fritz

    May 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    • Hi. I feel quite brave using the color, since I have no experience with watercolor. The pencils are fun to use and I also like the touch of color. Thanks. By the way, we have a robin building a nest in the tree outside the upstairs window… what an artist! Jane


      jane tims

      May 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

  3. The lily-of-the-valley was my mother’s favorite flower, too. I think your photos are beautiful. White (red and black) are very difficult to photograph. The trick is to change the white balance setting on your camera so it underexposes.



    May 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    • Hi Robin. Thank you for your faith that I can learn… my brother-in-law tried to teach me but I was hopeless. It’s one reason I turned to drawing! Jane


      jane tims

      May 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

  4. Another beautiful and educational post.



    May 26, 2012 at 4:27 am

  5. Jane you need to set your camera on manual, then under expose a stop or to , then you can retain the detail in a white flower.



    May 26, 2012 at 1:09 am

  6. Beautiful, Jane, and lovely dedication to Barbara’s mother.


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    May 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

  7. The photos are gorgeous. The poem captures the urgent growth and lively beauty of the wild Lily-of-the-Valley. Great post.


    Carol Steel

    May 25, 2012 at 7:49 am

    • Hi Carol. The speed of the growth of the plants this time of year is amazing!!! Thanks for the comment. Jane


      jane tims

      May 26, 2012 at 8:10 am

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