Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maianthemum canadense: foliage

[Photo: Maianthemum canadensis foliage.]Maianthemum canadense, known in English as "wild lily-of-the-valley", "Canada mayflower", and in French as maïanthème du Canada, is a low-growing (10 cm) perennial wildflower native to much of Canada and the north and eastern United States. It bears spikes of tiny white flowers in late spring, followed later on by red berries.

Looking at my rather boring photo, you wouldn't guess how thrilled I was to find this little plant at the North American Native Plant Society's native plant sale this past weekend. I have very fond memories of these little flowers carpeting the forest floor around our house in eastern Ontario when I was a kid. We just called them "lily-of-the-valley" and when I first saw what most people call "lily-of-the-valley" (i.e. Convallaria majalis) I thought it was too coarse. (I've learned to appreciate the different type of beauty of Convallaria since then; if only it wasn't invasive!) I've been looking for wild lily-of-the-valley for a while now, and it's not easy to come by, so I felt very lucky to find such a healthy plant for sale.


  1. Oh, *that's* what those little things were! Be sure to repost when they bloom.

  2. hi ladies :)

    you're making me smile because i got mine from the NANPS sale too :). it was 3 springs ago i think. my yard isn't acidic, but as you two know, here in the city folks are always looking for non-invasive dry shade groundcovers, so i wanted to get an idea of what this species would put up with. (and i have soft spot them in the wild / our pine savannahs -> woodlands -> forests too.) they're a very secure species so, i was hard on them. planted /tested them out in a fairly poor nutrient and dry site, a gravel and clay right of way, with some earlier sand ammendment, deciduous shade / good light in the spring. they acted slow & iffy at first, but, now they're already establishing into a little colony. they are tough, and looking adaptable. was already even able to give some away to folks last year.

    i don't say it often enough (i spend less time online than i used to), but thank you for your conversations. :)

  3. ok - glad you reminded me to check in on these these guys. native, sure. but nix "non-invasive." (they've grown right into the centre of my wild blue phlox. love that phlox. so can't have that, no.) guess i'll be relocating them into an isolated patch, in the spaces between a few rocks and bricks until someone comes along asking for "anything that will grow" under they're pines. :) took less time than i expected. fun while it lasted though. :)

  4. How does one find this plant now in the middle of summer? I was hoping to grow these or at least have one planted in my garden for next spring?

    Any suggestions apprciated.

  5. I'm not sure where you live, Peter, but here are some sources for this hard-to-find plant. I'd encourage you to shop as close to home as possible, and phone first if shopping in person.
    Nova Scotia
    Woodlands and Meadows Perennial Nursery and Gardens, Truro (shop in person)

    Acorus Restoration Native Plant Nursery, Walsingham, Ontario. (shop online or in person; also wholesale)
    Grow Wild!, Claremont. (shop in person by appointment)
    Old Field Garden & Wild Flower Nursery, Oxford Station. (shop in person by appointment or mail order)
    United States
    Native Haunts, Alfred. (seed only; shop by email or snail mail)
    New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham. (shop in person for plants; seeds available online)
    Tripple Brook Farm. (shop online)
    Prairie Restorations, Inc., Princeton. (order by phone or shop in person in Princeton, Scandia, or Duluth)
    New York
    Greenbelt Native Plant Center, Staten Island. (online catalogue; order by phone)
    Wild Things Rescue Nursery, Valley Falls. (shop online or in person)

    North Carolina
    Gardens of the Blue Ridge, Inc., Pineola. (shop online or in person. potted plants and bareroot available)
    Sandy Mush Herb Nursery, Leicester. (shop by mail order using form on website, or in person)

    Sugar Bush Nursery, Mohnton. (shop in person)

    Dykes & Son Nursery, McMinville. (wholesale)
    Nashville Natives, Fairview. (shop in person)

    Nature By Design, Alexandria. (shop in person)

    West Virginia
    Sunshine Farm and Gardens, Renick. (wholesale)

    Bluestem Farm, Baraboo. (shop in person at farm or at Dane County Farmers' Market in Madison)
    There are also a number of UK nurseries selling M. canadense, but really, if you're in the UK you should be focussing on plants native to the UK! (M. canadense is native to North America.)


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