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Maianthemum canadense

Maianthemum canadense Desf.

Maianthemum canadense Desf. var. interius Fernald

Maianthemum canadense Desf. var. pubescens Gates & Ehlers

Unifolium canadense (Desf.) Greene

Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyAsparagaceaeAgaves, asparagus, hyacinths, and others
GenusMaianthemumFrom Greek for “May flower,” for the blooming season
Speciescanadense“Of or from Canada”

About plant names...

Canada mayflower is a common native of Canada and the northern United States. It is also called false lily of the valley. It is a true lily, but so named because it differs from lily of the valley. The genus Maianthemum means “flowers in May,” although the actual bloom date depends on the climate.

Identification: These plants are up to 3-6" (7.6-15 cm) in height. They emerge early in the spring, poking through pine needles, first as a single leaf, with one or two more leaves appearing later. They often carpet extensive areas of the forest floor. Leaves are up to 3" (7.6 cm) long, with many parallel veins. They are roughly heart-shaped. In the center, a think stalk rises, covered with a group of tightly clustered white flowers. The flowers look a bit like tiny pin-cushions, with stamens seemingly pointing in all directions. If you look closely, flowers consist of four parts. Each flower is less than ¼" (6.3 mm) in diameter. Fruit is a cluster of berries, hard, green or bronze-colored, with red-brown dots, ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) in diameter. They become dull red and soft, and contain two seeds.

 

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

7/11/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near NH Line, Dunstable, MA
≈ 10 × 7" (26 × 17 cm)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

5/4/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, MA
≈ 6 × 5" (14 × 13 cm)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

8/18/2010 · J. Harry Rich Woods, off Nod Rd., Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

It is pretty hard to confuse Canada mayflower (also called false lily of the valley) and ”real” lily of the valley:

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Maianthemum canadense

Convallaria majalis
Common Name

Canada Mayflower

Lily of the Valley
Plant 3-6" (7.6-15 cm) high 6-12" (15-30 cm) high
Flowers

 

Flowers are less than ¼" (6.3 mm), with four parts, stamens seemingly sticking out in all directions, on upright stems.

 

5-15 white, bell-shaped flowers hanging along the length of the flowering stalk. Flowers are usually white, rarely pink.
Leaves One to three leaves, heart-shaped, 2-5" (5-12 cm) long × 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) wide.

 

One or two long, narrow leaves about 4-10" (10-25 cm), with tapering, sharp tips and parallel veins.
Fruit

 

Note young fruits (left) and mature fruits. Green or bronze at first, with dark red or brown spots, about ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) in diameter, becoming soft and dull red.
Berries are orange-red, ⅛-¼" (5-7 mm) in diameter.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-8
Habitats Rich woods, damp mossy woods, in partial shade Shaded forest floors in temperate regions
Type Wild Wild
Occurrence Common Common

 

Online References:

Maianthemum canadense at Illinois Wildflowers

Maianthemum canadense on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Maianthemum canadense on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Maianthemum canadense on BorealForest.org

Maianthemum canadense at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Maianthemum canadense at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Maianthemum canadense at Minnesota Wildflowers

Maianthemum canadense on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Maianthemum canadense on eFloras

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

4/27/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

5/18/2013 · Oak Hill, Littleton Conservation Land, Littleton, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 8.7 cm)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

8/5/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Maianthemum canadense description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

8/27/2010 · Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 8 × 7" (21 × 17 cm)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

Buds. · 5/2/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3 × 4½" (8.5 × 11 cm)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower, False Lily-of-the-valley)

9/14/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Range:

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