Although Canada Mayflower is considered a northern species, it can be found growing in Virginia in the higher elevations of the the Appalachian Mountains. The plants pictured here were photographed along the ridge top of Salt Pond Mountain (near Mountain Lake) and also along the banks of Big Stoney Creek in Giles County.
As you can see in the top two photos, Canada Mayflower is a low-growing (3-6 inches), perennial wildflower with small white blooms. In early spring, the leaves are distinctively heart-shaped, but later, the leaves will elongate but retain a heart-shaped base. Each plant bears 1-3 alternate, sessile leaves. The white flowers are born on short stalks in clusters of 10-20 per stalk; the flowers have four petals and four stamens. Later in the summer, red berries will replace the flowers.
Canada Mayflower spreads by rhizomes to form colonies. In ideal conditions, it can form a thick ground cover. The spreading growth habit of this diminutive plant has earned it the name Wild (or False) Lily-of-the-Valley. To see the real, native Lily-of-the-Valley, look here.
Check out the gallery below to see this plant at various stages of its growth cycle.