If you are a May baby, then your birth month flowers are the lily of the valley and the hawthorn. After April showers have done their duty, these May blooms cheerfully signify the renewal of spring.
Lily of the Valley
With their delicate bell-shaped blooms, the lily of the valley has a profound beauty and scent. But don’t let its pleasing aroma fool you – it is a very poisonous plant if ingested. For fans of the Netflix show Breaking Bad, the toxin from lily of the valley flowers was what Walter White used to poison his drug kingpin enemy. Because there is a belief that bells can summon the good spirits, legend has it that their small blooms can communicate with the outside world. For this reason, you will find them around homes to help ward off any bad omens – which is how Walter White spotted the flower!
Lilies of the valley were first cultivated in Japan, where they were then brought to Europe. With a wildflower disposition, they are a hearty plant and are known for spreading quickly and overtaking gardens. The scientific name for the lily of the valley is majalis or maialis, which means “belonging to May”.
In France, this flower is used to celebrate “May Day” which is celebrated on May 1st. According to French tradition, Labor Day or “May Day” began on May 1, 1561 when King Charles the 9th was given Lily of the valley flowers to bring him good luck. The tradition caught on and the French Labor Day is still celebrated with lily of the valley flowers. Most recently the flower has been linked to worker’s rights movements because demonstrators have worn the flower on their lapel during their marches. Anyone can sell lily of the valley flowers on the streets in France on May 1st each year. Sellers just must conform to a few regulations, such as maintaining a certain amount of distance from other florists and not selling any other flowers, and they can sell the flowers tax free.
In the Christian religion the lily of the valley symbolizes purity and humility and has many associations with tears. The flower is said to have sprung out of Eve’s tears as she was exiled from the Garden of Eden. It is also known as “Our Lady Tears” and “Mary’s Tears” in reference to Mary’s tears that were shed during the crucifixion of Jesus. Lilies are mentioned approximately 15 times in the Bible with the lily of the valley being mentioned by name in the second chapter of the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon.
The hawthorn flower is found blooming on a bush or tree vs. being a stand-alone flower. As the state flower of Missouri, there are hundreds of Hawthorn species. The white blossoms are comprised of five petals in ball-like clusters around the tree. The Hawthorn tree bears small, red, berry-like fruit. Hawthorns are in the rose family and, like the rose, grow like a hedge in the landscape.
There is mystic folklore based around the Hawthorn tree. Cutting the tree is said to cause bad luck and bringing the branches inside your home is even worse. For the branches left outside, it is said that witches used them for their brooms. The Hawthorn has many other uses:
- Medical: The berries are loaded with antioxidants and have been associated with treatments for asthma, heart problems, diabetes, some cancers, and certain infections.
- Food: Hawthorn berries are considered food and are used in vinegars, jams, syrups, and teas.
- Digestion: Hawthorn berries and their extract are used to treat digestive issues, soothe indigestion and stomach pain.
It is not as common to see the Hawthorn flower in bouquets. However, their red berry sprigs are occasionally used in arrangements to add splashes of color.
Petals and Pinot
A bouquet of lily of the valley flowers along with bright red Hawthorn berries will make the perfect gift for a Mother’s Day arrangement or a May birthday gift. At Petals & Pinot, we custom design your arrangements and deliver them in Lewisville, Flower Mound, Carrollton, Denton, and surrounding areas. Contact us to send a meaningful flower arrangement for a birthday, Mother’s Day, funeral or “just because.”