Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canada Mayflower - Maianthemum canadense   Desfontaines
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Section 5 » Order Liliales » Family Ruscaceae
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AuthorDesfontaines
DistributionThroughout the mountains, recorded from all such counties. Does not occur below the Blue Ridge Escarpment into the Piedmont.

This is a Northern species, found across most of Canada and then south to NJ, PA, and IA. South of those latter states it is essentially limited to the Appalachians, ranging to northwestern SC and northern GA.
AbundanceCommon across most of the mountains, at least at the higher elevations. It is also rather widespread and not overly local.
HabitatThis species favors cool forested sites, in a variety of settings. It occurs in Northern Hardwood Forests, Rich Cove Forests, Acidic Cove Forests, and into various conifer or mixed conifer-hardwood forests.
PhenologyBlooms from mid-May into early July; fruits in August and September.
IdentificationThis is possibly the lowest-growing lily in the state, along with Least Trillium (Trillium pusillum). This "tiny" species grows only to about 4-6 inches tall, with two or three large (for the size of the plant) leaves clasping the stem. Each leaf is ovate, shiny and dark green, and about 2 inches long, with a cordate base. The inflorescence is only about 1-2 inches tall, consisting of a dense raceme of small white flowers. (Each flower has only 4 tepals instead of 6, though this is not important for identification.) As this species typically grows in quite dense stands of several hundred plants in a small area, it is hard to overlook, despite its short stature, owing to the sizable shiny and dark green leaves that clasp the stem. The species tends to bloom somewhat after the primary peak of spring wildflowers of cove forests (in late April or early May), but observers should have little trouble finding the species on a visit or two to montane forests.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)False Lily-of-the-valley, Canadian Lily-of-the-valley
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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