Maianthemum canadense

Cow Parsnip

Maianthemum canadense, Canada Mayflower
Canada Mayflower
Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Maianthemum, from the Latin, "May blossom"
  • canadense, from the Latin, "of Canada"
  • Canada Mayflower, from
  • Other common names include Bead Ruby, Canada Beadruby, False Lily-of-the-Valley, Wild Lily-of-the-Valley, Squirrel Berry (Finland), Two Leaf Solomon's Seal, Muguet

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Liliopsida, the Monocotyledons
      • Subclass Liliidae, the Lilies
        • Order Liliales, the Lilies
          • Family Liliaceae, the Lilies
            • Genus Maianthemum, the Beadrubies
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 503653
  • Also known as Maianthemum canadense var. interius, Maianthemum canadense var. pubescens, Unifolium canadense

Description:

  • An evergreen, rhizomatous perennial herb, 3"-8".
  • Leaves one to three
  • Flowers white, 10-40 in raceme.
  • Rhizomes rooted in the litter layer with shallow extensions into mineral soil. Annual rhizome growth 6"-12".
  • A single clone can be 20' in diameter and 30-60 years old.

Identification:

Distribution:

  • Northern North America

Habitat:

  • Dominant understory species in the sub-boreal and boreal hardwood, mixed hardwood/conifer, and conifer forests of the US and Canada.
  • Occurs under all tree species of the upland boreal forests. A minor species in wetlands.

Fire:

Associates:

History:

Uses:

Reproduction:

  • Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes.
  • Flowers May to July
  • Pollination by solitary bees, bee flies, and syrphids.
  • Berries have one to four seeds; mature in 30 days.
  • Some seed dispersal by birds.

Propagation:

  • Reproduction by seed extremely poor.
  • By division in early spring.

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Shade tolerant and adaptable to a wide range of sunlight levels.
  • Intolerant of high acidity (pH below 4.4 to 5.5)

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Last Updated on 2 November, 2002