Maianthemum canadense (Canadian may-lily, Canada mayflower, false lily-of-the-valley, Canadian lily-of-the-valley, wild lily-of-the-valley, two-leaved Solomon's seal) is an understory perennial flowering plant, native to Canada and the north-eastern United States, from Yukon and British Columbia east to Newfoundland, into St. Pierre and Miquelon. It can be found growing in both coniferous and deciduous forests. The plant appears in two forms, either as a single leaf rising from the ground with no fruiting structures or as a flowering/fruiting stem with 2-3 leaves. Flowering shoots have clusters of 12–25 starry-shaped, white flowers held above the leaves.
Plants grow to 10–25 cm (4–10 in) tall, arising from branching rhizomes that have roots only at the nodes. Plants may be one-leaved and without fruiting structures (sterile). Fertile, flowering shoots have 2–3 leaves.
Leaf blades are 4.5–9 cm (2–4 in) long by 3–5.5 cm (1–2 in) wide with a pointed tip. Lowest leaves are usually egg-shaped with two lobes at the base and a narrow space (sinus) between the lobes. Upper leaves are usually heart-shaped and set on a short 1-7 mm long petiole.
Clusters of 12–25 starry-shaped, white flowers are set in a complex raceme - an unbranched flowering cluster that has 1-3 (usually 2) stalked flowers per node, set at roughly equal distances along a central axis. Lowest flowers open first. Flowers stalks (pedicels) are 3-7 mm long and thin (0.2-0.5 mm wide).
Flowers and fruits
The flowers are produced from spring to mid summer. They have 4 conspicuous, white, 1.5-2 mm long tepals. The fruit is a berry containing 1–2 round seeds. The berries are 4-6 mm across, mottled red in early summer and turning deep red by mid summer. Seed is produced infrequently and most plants in a location are vegetative clones, the plants spreading by their shallow, trailing, white rhizomes.
Found in Canada from SE Yukon, southern Northwest Territories, into eastern B.C. and east to Newfoundland and Labrador, and into St. Pierre and Miquelon. Also found in northern United States from the Dakotas east, south along the Appalachian Mountains and outliers in Colorado, Wyoming Nebraska and Kansas.
Habitat and ecology
Primarily a boreal forest understory species, but also found at low elevation sites in the Rocky Mountains, to 1800 m. It is associated with moist woods but is also found in sandy pine woods in the north and can persist in clearings.
Although most Maianthemum have flower parts in sets of 3, M. canadense plants have flowers with four tepals and four stamens, as in the very closely related Maianthemum bifolium and Maianthemum dilatatum. The range of these species do not overlap. Maianthemum bifolium is found in temperate Eurasia and Maianthemum dilatatum is essentially a coastal species found from Alaska south to NW California as well as Mongolia to Japan. Maianthemum trifolium is also a small herb and has a distribution similar to M. canadense, but the flower parts are in sets of 3s, the leaf bases are tapered, not heart-shaped and M. trifolium is found in wet habitat such as bogs.
No subspecies are currently recognized, although in the western half of the range plants with hairs and consistently larger leaves have been treated as var. interius.
- "Maianthemum canadense". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- Dickinson, T.A.; Bull, J.; Metsger, D. & Dickinson, R. (2004), The ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario, Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, ISBN 978-0-7710-7652-7, p.105
- "Flora of North America". Flora North America Website. Flora of North America Editorial Committee. Retrieved 2021-03-22.
- LaFrankie, James V. (2002). "Maianthemum canadense". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 26. New York and Oxford – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
- LaFrankie, J.V. 1986. Morphology and taxonomy of the new world species of Maianthemum (Liliaceae). Journal of the Arnold Arboretum Vo. 67, No. 4 (October 1986), pp. 371-439.
- Porsild, A.E.; Cody, W.J. (1980). Vascular Plants of Continental Northwest Territories, Canada. Ottawa, Canada: National Museums of Canada. p. 206. ISBN 0-660-00119-5.
- Sicence, Kew. "Maianthemum bifolium (L.) F.W.Schmidt". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
- Sicence, Kew. "Maianthemum dilatatum (Alph.Wood) A.Nelson & J.F.Macbr". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
- Blanchan, Neltje (2002). Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
Media related to Maianthemum canadense at Wikimedia Commons