Convallaria majalis is commonly known as the lily of the valley and is possibly the only species in the genus Convallaria in the flowering plant family. This woodland plant is native throughout the cool temperate in Asia, Europe, and a limited native population in Eastern USA. There is, however, some debate as to the native status of the American variety.
The Lily of the Valley has many legends as to how they came about. One Christian legend has it that the Lily of the Valley, also known as Our Lady’s Tears came to being from Eve’s tears after she was driven with Adam away from the Garden of Eden. Another Christian legend states that Mary’s tears turned to lily of the valley when she cried at the crucifixion of Jesus thus lily of the valley also being labeled Mary’s Tears. Yet another legend says that the lily of the valley came about from the blood shed by Saint Leonard Nobiac during his battle with a dragon.
The lily of the valley signifies the return of happiness. Another legend tells of the affection of a lily of the valley for a nightingale that did not come back to the woods until the flower bloomed in May. It is a symbol of humility in religious painting.
Other names include May lily, May bells, lily constancy, ladder-to-heaven, male lily and muguet (French). Its scientific name, majalis or maialis, means “of or belonging to May”. It is the national flower of Finland and the official flower of many fraternities and sororities.