Previously in Convallariaceae then Liliaceae, Lily of the Valley is now in Asparagaceae s.l.
It is the only species in the genus and has 1 variety.
Native to much of northern Europe and America it is naturalised in many cooler areas.
Growing from an underground stem or rhizome they form colonies of indefinite size.
A short stalk from the rhizome holds 2 almost basal leaves that are up to 25 or 30 cm long.
The oblong to elliptic blade, with a pointed tip is up to 12 cm across.
The bases taper to a petiole that sheaths the stem.
The veins are parallel.
A single, leafless inflorescence stalk grows from the rhizome up through the leaf sheaths.
The stalk (peduncle) is up to 30 cm long with a single raceme at the top.
The raceme has up to 15 flowers on one side of the rachis.
The nodding, bell-shaped flowers are on stalks (pedicels) around 1 to 1.5 cm long.
At the base of each pedicel is pale green or white bracteole.
Around 4 to 8 mm long it is narrow with a pointed tip.
The 7.5 mm wide perianth has 6 tepals in one whorl.
Their bases are fused into a tube 5 to 6 mm long.
The outward curving lobes are around 2.5 mm long.
Most are white but there is a pink cultivar C. majalis ‘Rosea’.
The 6 stamens are around 3 mm long with white filaments and yellow anthers.
They insert into the base of the tube or onto the receptacle.
The dorsifixed anthers are twice the length of the filaments.
Pollen release is through a longitudinal slit that opens first at the top.
The superior 2 mm long ovary, from 3 fused carpels, has 3 locules.
Each locule has 6 ovules in 3 sets of 2.
The style has a single or slightly 3-lobed stigma with long papillae.
There are no septal nectaries.
The fruit are round red or orange berries around 7 to 9 mm across.
Each has 1 to a few pale seeds.
There are a number of cultivars – one with pink flowers, one with double flowers and another with larger plants.
Most cultivars involve variegated leaves with white, cream or yellow stripes or edges.