May is here, heralding the approach of summer. Did you know that May Day is associated with the Roman deity Flora? She was the goddess of flowers and her festival Floralia was held annually at the onset of May. It’s not really surprising that May was chosen for this celebration as it’s a time of year when many types of wild flowers come into their own. The floors of our woodlands are carpeted by forget-me-nots and bluebells whilst grasslands can be a cacophony of colour at this time of year.
Lily of the valley flowers in May and is traditionally the birth flower for those born at this time of year. It is said to symbolise their sweet nature, which is appropriate as lily of the valley’s scent is famous – why not try to find one and see for yourself?
If you do want to smell lily of the valley, where would you find one and how would you recognise it? Well, the best place to look is in woodland between the start of May and the end of June. You should be able to recognise it by its flowers. These take the shape of little white bells which hang from arched stems (see the picture above for a better idea). The plant’s leaves are quite large, shiny and oval-shaped and cover much of the ground so that’s something else to look out for.
But take care if you do find some lily of the valley – its pretty flowers and glorious scent hide a dark secret. All parts of the plant are deadly poisonous, so DON’T eat any. Later in the year it produces red berries which small children might find attractive so be sure to keep them away. I hope lily of the valley’s toxicity does not reflect on the character of children born in May!
At Education Quizzes we have a love of nature and we’d like you to get the best from it too. Take a look at the Woodland Trust website. There are 100s of woodlands listed there. Nature is on your doorstep so go out and take a look! And, after that, you might like to browse our Nature quizzes. We have dozens which are all free to play, including ones devoted to trees and wild flowers.