The False Lily of the Valley is a beautiful and popular groundcover, maxing out at a height of 6-12 inches. The native’s most distinguishable feature would be the shiny, leathery, heart-shaped leaves. The leaves grow to about 10 centimeters long by 5-8 centimeters wide, often helping the plant become the dominant groundcover in forests. Among the broad leaves are shoots of clustered white star-shaped flowers. After fertilization, the flowers give way to small berries that reach about 6 millimeters in diameter. The berries start off speckled and turn solid red.
Because it is so shade and drought tolerant, the False Lily of the Valley is in high demand for use in gardens. If neglected, however, it is capable of spreading and crowding other plants. But this groundcover has long been used for other practical purposes; the leaves are used medicinally and the berries are edible.
This Native Plant of the Month has been brought to you by the City of Beaverton’s Landscape and Urban Forestry Department along with Clean Water Services. Visit Clean Water Service’s Native Plant Finder webpage for interactive questions to help you find the right native plant to fit your needs!