Lily Of The Valley
The Lily of the Valley grows wild in many of our English woods,
and possesses special curative virtues, which give it, according to
modern knowledge, a just place among Herbal Simples of repute.
This is the parent flower of our graceful, sweet-scented scape of
pendent, milk-white little floral bells, enshrined within two broad
leafy blades of dark green, and finding general favour for the
jardiniere, or the button-hole
Its name Convallaria majalis is derived from convallis, a
valley, and majalis, belonging to the month of May, when this
Lily comes into flower.
Rustics corrupt the double title to Liry Confancy, and provincially
the plant is known as Wood Lily, May Lily, and May
Blossom. Also it bears the name of Mugget, and is said to have
grown up after the bloody combat of St. Leonard with the Dragon.
The French call it Muguet, or little musk. The taste of the
flowers is acrid and bitter; they have been  employed with
benefit, when dried and powdered, as snuff, for headache, and
giddiness arising from weakness. A tincture of the plant is made,
and can be procured from any leading druggist. The active
medicinal principle is convallarin, which slows the disturbed
action of a weak, irritable heart, whilst at the same time increasing
its power. Happily the remedy is a perfectly safe one, and no harm
has been known to occur from taking it experimentally in full and
frequent doses; so that, in this respect, it is far preferable to the
Fox Glove, which is apt to accumulate in the blood with poisonous
results. To make the tincture of Convallaria, one part of the
flowers is treated with eight parts of spirit of wine (proof); and the
dose is from five to fifteen drops, with a tablespoonful of water,
three times in the twenty-four hours.
Also an infusion may be made with boiling water poured over the
whole plant-root, stems, and flowers; and this infusion may be given
continuously for from five to ten days; but it should be left off for a
time as soon as the irritability of the heart is subdued, and the pulse
steady and stronger. If taken during an attack of palpitation and
laboured breathing from a weak heart, the benefit of the infusion in
tablespoonful doses is felt at once.
Ten grains of the dried flowers may be infused in six ounces of
boiling water; and a tablespoonful of this be given three times a day
with perfect safety, and with a most soothing effect for a weak,
sensitive, palpitating heart; but it does not suit a fatty heart
equally well. Nevertheless, even for insufficiency of the valves, when
dangerous, or distressing symptoms of heart disease have set in, an
infusion of the flowers has proved very helpful. The rhizome,
root, exhales a pleasant odour,  different from that of the
flowers; it tastes sweet at first but afterwards bitter.
A fluid extract is further prepared, and may be mixed in doses of
from five to twenty drops with water. The Russian peasants have
long employed the Lily of the Valley for certain forms of dropsy,
when proceeding from a faulty heart.
In the summer, when the flowers are in bloom, two drachms, by
weight, of the leaves should be steeped in a pint of water, either cold
or boiling; and the whole of this may be taken, if needed, during the
twenty-four hours. It will promote a free flow of urine. Culpeper
commended the Lily of the Valley for weak memory, loss of speech,
and apoplexy; whilst Gerard advised it for gout. In Devonshire it is
thought unlucky to plant a bed of these Lilies, as the person who
does so will probably die within the next twelve months.
In the Apocrypha, Canticles ii, I, I am the Lily of the Valley,
this flower is apparently brought under notice, but some other plant
must be intended here, because the Lily Convally does not grow in
Palestine. The word Lily is used in Oriental languages for a flower
Distilled water from the flowers was formerly in great repute against
nervous affections, and for many troubles of the head, insomuch
that it was treasured in vessels of gold and silver. Matthiolus named
it Aqua aurea, golden water; and Etmuller said of the virtues of
the plant, Quod specifice armabit impotentes maritos ad bellum
A spirit made from the petals is excellent as an outward
embrocation for rheumatism and sprains; and in some parts of
Germany, a wine is prepared from the flowers mixed with raisins.
Old Gerard adopted an  unaccountable method for extracting
these virtues of the Lilies. He ordered that, The flowers being close
stopped up in a glass vessel, should be put into an ant hill, and taken
away again a month after, when ye shall find a liquor in the glass
which, being outwardly applied, will help the cure of the gout.
After the blossom has fallen off a berry is formed, which assumes in
the autumn a bright scarlet colour, and proves attractive to birds.