Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Lily of the valley

2014-05-03 12.09.031. In France they make a lot of lily of the valley on May Day; we used to go out into the woods to try and find wild ones [Natural History Museum, London, March 2004].

2. Lily of the valleys were known as Jacob’s ladders in my youth – Glos., WW2 [Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, January 2002].

3. Just yesterday I was discussing herbs and scented materials with a friend who had recently visited France. She was there on May 1 and had a vivid memory of people wearing muguet du bois (lily of the valley) [Berkeley, California, U.S.A., December 2001].

4. My mother used to say that if you planted lily of the valley, someone in the family would die – I think it was someone in the family, no one else. It was one of her silly things; I’ve never heard it again [Tooting, London, February 2001].

5. It was said here in York that to have lily of the valley was very unlucky [Dringhouses, York, March 1997].

6. Lily of the valley – traditionally it bloomed in time to be worn at Helston on 8 May at the Furry Dance. All the policemen wear a bunch on their uniforms on this day when on duty at the celebrations. The town is decorated with greenery, mainly bluebells and sycamore branches, also rhododendrons [St Day, Cornwall, January 1994].

7. It is unlucky to take lily of the valley into the house [Dunkineely, Co. Donegal. February 1986].

8. Some people say it’s unlucky to have lilies of the valley indoors, but I don’t believe that; also green is meant to be unlucky, it was unlucky for my mother twice [Thorncombe, Dorset, April 1985].

Images:  main, cultivated, Eynsham, Oxfordshire, April 2017; inset, wild, Croham Hurst, London Borough of Croydon, May 2014.