False Lily-of-the-Valley - Maianthemum dilatatum

[IFBC-E-flora] [E-flora]  




Medicinal Uses



General "....growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in)." [PFAF]
Lifecycle Perennial.[IFBC][E-flora][PFAF][WildPNW]
Flowers "Inflorescence a loose, cylindrical, terminal cluster of several to many spreading flowers". [IFBC] [E-flora] "Small. white, with flower parts in 4s (unlike usual 3s [PCBC2004][PSW][WildPNW] or 6's [PSW][WildPNW] of most species in the lily family)." [PCBC2004] "The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects." [PFAF]
Fruits "Berries, globe-shaped, spotted..."[IFBC] [E-flora] Red, 6mm in diameter.[HNW] "...light green and mottled brown at first..." [PCBC2004]
Leaves "Alternate, 1-3 (usually 2)..." [PCBC2004] "basal leaf long-petioled, broadly heart-shaped, short pointed." [HNW] "...to about 8 in. long by 4 in. wide. shiny..." [WildPNW]
Stem "...10-35 cm tall, smooth."[IFBC] [E-flora] "...bending at a slight angle at each node..." [HNW]
Root a slender rhizome. [IFBC][E-flora] "creeping rhizomes".[PCBC2004]
Properties Flowers fragrant.[WildPNW]
Habitat "Mesic to wet forests and streambanks..."[IFBC] [E-flora] "shady moist woods, often along streams." [HNW] "Sometimes forms the dominant groundcover in Sitka-spruce forests near the sea." [PCBC2004]
Range common in coastal BC [IFBC] [E-flora] Calif. North Coast north to B.C. [PSW]
Status Native. [E-flora]
Ecological Indicator Shade-tolerant and ocean spray-tolerant. "Occurs...on very moist to wet, nitrogen-rich soils (Moder or Mull humus forms)". "Scattered to plentiful in coniferous and broad-leaved for­ests on water-receiving and water-collecting sites, commonly found on stream-edge sites, floodplains, and sites affected by ocean spray. Grows with Blechnum spicant, Polystichum munitum, Tiarella trifoliata, Trautvetteria caroliniensis, and Lysichitum americanum."[IPBC][E-flora]


  • Calcium - .46 - .54% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Copper - <1 - 6ppm [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Iron - 36 - 43ppm [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Magnesium -.20 - .23% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Manganese - 261.9 - 785.8ppm [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Nitrogen - 1.45 - 2.61% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Phosphorus - .21 - .38% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Potassium - 2.11 - 2.68% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Sodium - .59 - .72% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Zinc - 19.9 - 27.2ppm [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Ash - 7.5 - 8.1% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Cellulose - 12.8 - 15.4% [Hanley&McKendrick]
  • Lignin/Cutin - 1.4 - 1.5% [Hanley&McKendrick]


"Requires a cool shady moist but not wet position[1, 187]. Plants tolerate warm summers only if the soil remains moist[200]. A mat forming plant, it can be invasive in good conditions[200]." [PFAF]


"Seed - best sown quite thinly it as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it should germinate in the spring. Stored seed should be sown in late winter in a cold frame, it might take 18 months to germinate. Allow the seedlings to grow on in the pot for their first year, giving liquid feeds as necessary to ensure that they do not go hungry. Divide the plants into individual pots once they have died down in late summer. Grow them on in pots for another year or more until large enough to plant out[K]. Division as new growth commences in the spring. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring." [PFAF]

Maianthemum Sp.; "edible but unpalatable. The bitterness of false Solomon's seal berries protects us from eating enough to cause severe diarrhea - a possible reaction." [Berries]

Maianthemum bifolium (L.) F.W. Schmidt (syn. Majanthemum bifolium (L.) DC.) Fruits "collected by children for making wine, until the 20th century, Mz [53]."[Luczaj&Szymanski] Fruits eaten "raw, as children's snack".[Luczaj]

Maianthemum canadense - Canada mayflower - Eastern B.C. [E-flora]; Berries consumed by the Forest Potawatomi. "...the root of this plant [is used] to make a medicine in curing sore throat. Among the whites the root has been used for its stimulant properties for diseases of the head, to produce sneezing, as an expectorant and for its mucilaginous properties."[HuronSmith Zuni] A smoke was inhaled for unspecified purposes (Smith 1932).[UAPDS] Compound decoction of roots taken for the kidneys, Infusion of plant for headache, the plant for sore throat.[Moerman NAEth]

Maianthemum racemosum (L.) Link ssp. amplexicaule (Nutt.) LaFrankie (Liliaceae). - Feathery false lily of the valley; roots burned "to produce smoke to revive an unconscious person (Krochmal and Krochmal 1973)." Originally under Smilacina amplexicaulis (Nutt.) S. Wats.[USPDS]
Maianthemum racemosum (L.) Link. ssp. racemosum (Convallariaceae). Father Solomon’s seal.; Originally reported as Smilacina racemosa (L.). It "was burned ... to produce smoke that was considered useful for relieving headaches and other pain (Gilmore 1933). " [UAPDS] "...people have been seriously poisoned, for example, by mistaking the highly poisonous false hellebore (Veratrum viride) for the edible shoots of false Solomon’s-seal (Maianthemum racemosum)[ETWP] Young cooked shoots can be eaten. [Berries]


Page last modified on Sunday, March 25, 2018 8:45 PM