Shy or unassuming are often words used to describe lily of the valley—the birthday flower of May celebrants. It’s delicate, bell-shaped white flowers droop as if bowing which is why they are often associated with traits like humility, purity and innocence. These values make them suitable for various types of bouquets and flower arrangements, including condolence wreath Singapore and even Grand Openings. For home décor, they’re the ideal flower for minimalists.
Lilies of the valley can easily be the focal flowers, but they can also help highlight any bloom because of the small-sized buds and muted colour. However, they don’t readily grow in tropical countries like Singapore since they cannot survive in hot climates. Instead, you can usually see them in temperate forests across Asia, Europe, and North America.
Today we’ll get to know more about this oft-overlooked bloom.
Background and Etymology
The lily of the valley is actually not a lily. Scientifically, it is classified as part of the Asparagaceae family. As for its scientific name, Convallaria majalis or maialis, it means “of or belonging to May.” This flower also usually blooms in the month of May, so this is why it is also known as the May lily.
According to the Bible, the lily of the valley blossomed from the spot on the ground where Mary’s tears fell at the foot of the cross. Lilies of the valley also make multiple appearances and references in several Christian Bible stories.
Meanings and Symbolisms
Apart from humility and purity, lily of the valley is also believed to bring luck in love. In addition, it also symbolises “the return of happiness” which explains why it’s a popular choice as decorations in weddings as well as for wedding bouquets. In fact, it’s a favourite among royals. Queen Victoria, Princess Astrid of Sweden, Grace Kelly, and Kate Middleton included this unassuming bloom as part of their wedding bouquets.
Europeans seem to be fond of this flower. Historically, the lily of the valley became Finland’s national flower in 1967 as well as the floral emblem of Yugoslavia. In France, they celebrate La Fête du Muguet or Lily of the Valley Day on May 1. The French treat this bloom as a flower of romance. During La Fête du Muguet, apart from people giving this flower to their loved ones, they also hold an annual lily of the valley dances where singles could meet without their parents’ permission.
The good thing about flowers is that they also have practical uses. Lily of the valley is no exception. Of course, we know that lily of the valley can be found as a popular ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics. Lesser known is their poisonous properties.
In herbal medicine, lily of the valley can be used as a poison antidote, for the heart and epilepsy. In addition, tea infusions and ointments from this plant are utilised to treat burns, fever and used as a sedative as well as a diuretic.
While the plant contains various toxins that can help stimulate the heart, if ingested in large quantities it can actually cause death. In fact, all parts of the lily of the valley plant are poisonous and is dangerous if swallowed. Finally, lily of the valley is also sometimes cultivated to produce green dye.
So despite their innocent appearance, they can be pretty deadly. Another proof that appearances can be deceiving.