Trillium – Red and White

Oh the trilliums!  I love them.  They’re blooming a little earlier this year than last.  Of course the temperature was near 80 several days this week.  Way too hot for April, in my opinion…  So far this spring I have found two species – a red one and a white one.

Red TrilliumRed Trilliums (Trillium erectum) are growing on the steep banks of the creek in the woods where I walk the dog.  The photo at left isn’t the sharpest.  Sometimes I take lousy photos and keep them, just to remember when I first saw a particular species.  (Last year, I found them a week later than this year.)  I went back earlier the next day when the sun would still be shining on the east-facing creekbank and took a closeup:

Red Trillium Closeup

I also found many droopy White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) that could really use some rain.  This specimen, mostly in the shade, was doing fine on Earth Day, except for an infection:

Large-flowered Trillium

Sometimes mutant plants with green striped petals are found in the Trillium grandiflorum species.  These plants are diseased — infected with parasitic mycoplasmas that cause the greening.  As time passes, the mycoplasmas will cause deformity in the petals and eventually the death of the plant.  Although sometimes erroneously prized for this aberrant colouring, these trilliums should be removed before the mycoplasmas can spread to affect an entire colony. (Woodland Plants: The Trillium by Darcie McKelvey – source)

Poor little guy.  The article cited above also tells about the precarious life cycle and life span of trillium.  Seeds need very particular conditions in order to grow.  Once they germinate, it takes seven years or longer before a plant can produce a flower.  Mycoplasmas are not the only enemy:  if deer browse away the leaves, the plant cannot store enough energy to survive and return next year.  They are shade-loving and will not tolerate a clear cut…  So many dangers… and still… once in a while… you find huge patches of them.  Ruth posted this photo last year:

Wow!  I’ve never come across a patch quite that large!

I wrote about these trillium species last year, too:

Perhaps today I’ll go in search of a Painted Trillium…

6 thoughts on “Trillium – Red and White

  1. I love your closeups of the two trilliums. I just returned from this same bush tonight and the flower carpet is almost ready again. It has been so warm here too and they are coming out 7-10 days early. It is supposed to cool off this weekend though. The last picture shows about half the trilliums in this one area.

  2. I never see them around here – I don’t know if it’s the soil or the habitat, but I’d love to find some to photograph (although plants are definitely not my forte…

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