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Convallaria majalis Minimize

GENUS: Convallaria

Convallaria majalis L.—Lily-of-the-valley

FAMILY: Liliaceae—the Lily Family (see Amianthium)

PHENOLOGY: Lily-of-the-valley flowers in May.

DISTRIBUTION: This cultivated plant frequently persists around foundations and is naturalized in some areas.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: The familiar lily-of-the-valley produces a one-sided flowering stalk of fragrant, white, nodding, bell-shaped flowers. The fruits ripen into red berries approximately I cm in diameter.

POISONOUS PARTS: All parts including pips (underground structures), flowers, fruits, and leaves are poisonous.

SYMPTOMS: No reliable reports of livestock losses exist in the literature. There is, however, laboratory-confirmed toxicity. The plant has digitalis-like action (see Digitalis), including heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and gastrointestinal upset.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: More than 20 cardiac glycosides, including convallarin and convallamarin, are known to be produced by this plant.

CONFUSED TAXA: Plants are distinct enough not to be readily misidentified.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Potentially all; livestock and humans are susceptible to the toxins; a report of toxicity to fowl is undocumented.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (19); (26).

OF INTEREST: The drug, convallatoxin, from the blossoms, is used as a cardiotonic. The dried rhizome, known as Convallaria root, has also been used as a cardiotonic and diuretic. In veterinary science it has been used as a diuretic and cardiac stimulant.

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