Herb: Star-Flowered Lily Of The Valley

Latin name: Smilacena stellata

Synonyms: Convallaria stellata, Vagnera stellata

Family: Convallariaceae

Medicinal use of Star-Flowered Lily Of The Valley:

Star-flowered lily of the valley was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. A tea made from the roots is drunk to regulate menstrual disorders. A decoction of the leaves is taken 2 - 3 times a day in the treatment of rheumatism and colds. Half a cup of leaf tea drunk daily for a week by a woman is said to prevent conception. The root is analgesic, antiseptic, haemostatic, ophthalmic, stomachic and vulnerary. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach complaints, internal pains and to regulate menstrual disorders. The dried powdered root has been used in treating wounds and bleeding. The crushed root has been used as a poultice on sprains, boils, swellings and limbs affected by rheumatism. The pulped root has been used as ear drops to treat ear aches. An infusion of the roots has been used as a wash for inflamed eyes.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Woods, thickets and open meadows, on gravelly and alluvial soils.

Edible parts of Star-Flowered Lily Of The Valley:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is about the size of a pea and is produced on the plant in small terminal clusters of about 2 - 8 berries. It has a nice bitter-sweet flavour that is somewhat reminiscent of treacle. The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, it has been used to prevent scurvy. The fruit is said to be laxative in large quantities when eaten raw, especially if you are not used to eating it, though thorough cooking removes this laxative effect. Young leaves - raw or cooked. The young shoots, as they emerge in spring, can be used as an asparagus substitute. The young shoots and leaves are cooked and used as greens. Root - cooked. It should be soaked in alkaline water first to get rid of a disagreeable taste. It can be eaten like potatoes.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 60cm apart each way. An inferior cover to S. racemosa.

Propagation of Star-Flowered Lily Of The Valley:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking 18 months. Stored seed should be sown in a cold frame as soon as possible, it may take 2 years or longer to germinate. Grow the seedlings on in a shady part of a greenhouse for their first year without pricking them out, giving them liquid or foliar feeds as required to ensure that they do not become nutrient deficient. Divide the young plants up into individual pots in the autumn when they are dormant, and grow them on for at least another year in a shady part of the greenhouse. When the plants have reached a sufficient size, plant them out in the autumn whilst they are dormant. Division in spring or early autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woods, thickets and open meadows, on gravelly and alluvial soils.

Known hazards of Smilacena stellata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.