April 23, 2014

Plant of the month: Trillium erectum

T. erectum

So many ephemerals appear and bloom in the wink of an eye in my garden between mid-April and mid-May. When they actually appear varies from season to season. As ephemerals, they emerge, flower, and disappear within a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the species.

Any day now, I'm expecting to see the first Trilliums. In fact, they may have emerged already under the leaf mold on the forest floor. But when they bloom, they put on quite a show for a short period of time.

I didn't plant any of these Trilliums. Either the previous owner added them, or they were true wildflowers--existing on the undisturbed glacial drumlin forest at the back of our property.

Great White Trilliums (T. grandiflorum) are rather abundant here, but Red Trilliums (T. erectum) are not. A few years back, I discovered a small patch of them mixed in with the Wild Ginger, False Rue Anemone, and other wildflowers.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists Trillium erectum as native to the lower 48 U.S. states and the Canadian provinces, but apparently a rare find west of Lake Michigan. Other nicknames for T. erectum include Wakerobin, Purple Trillium, or Stinking Benjamin. That last name refers to the foul smell of this plant, which attracts carrion flies as pollinators.

pollinators

Can you count the pollinators on this flower? I'm seeing at least four.

It is a "stinker," but it's located far from our house at the edge of the woods, so it's not a problem in my garden. I wouldn't recommend intentionally planting a large patch of them near your back door, though.

sepals

It's a lovely flower. I think the red-trimmed sepals are stunning when backlit by filtered afternoon light.

T. grandiflorum

The buds are similar to those of the Great White Trillium.

nodding2

nodding

But Trillium erectum has a more "nodding" posture, and the blooms aren't as large. There's also a white variety of T. erectum, although I don't have any of those in my garden.

fruit

The development of the fruit of this species (apparent in the center of the flower in the photo above) is quite fascinating, as The Nature Institute describes at this link.

It's a fun ephemeral to find in a natural setting and a beautiful plant to include in Gail's Wildflower Wednesday line-up at Clay and Limestone. Head on over to her blog to learn about other wildflowers blooming in gardens around the world.

(By the way, another species, T. sessile, also goes by the nickname Red Trillium, as well as Toadshade and Toad Trillium. Visit this link to learn about that species.)

65 comments:

  1. Beth this is a beauty and one I do not have. I do have T. sessile, yellow and white trillium. I adore the spring ephemerals now too. I am going out almost daily looking for them as they bloom. Here's to that special time with the early spring wildflowers in both our gardens.

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    1. Hi Donna: Hunting for wildflowers is my favorite kind of safari! I remember doing it back when I was brownie girl scout and first learning about nature. How lucky you are to have so many species of Trilliums! My heart sings when I see them. :)

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  2. I am seeing quite a few Trillium's lately and I love them, they are a treat for me as I haven't ever seen them before. Your photo's of them are lovely and this one is gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. Trilliums are a favorite for me, too. When we moved to Wisconsin from Indiana, they were one of the first wildflowers that I noticed in the woods (this was back when I was nine years old and they made a big impression). Indiana has Trilliums, too, but the place we moved to was a little more "wild." Finding the Red Trillium was a first for me, too. :)

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  3. Wow... it's something new for me, again! Look so unique. The bud and the petal are really interesting. Nice shape and color. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. It's fun to share with you, since we have such very different climates and plants! We both learn so much from each other. Thanks for your kind comments, Endah!

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  4. I agree it's a beauty and your photos rival with the elegance of the flowers. It must be amazing to see blooms after such a long winter

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    1. Thank you, Lula! Yes, seeing the first blooms really makes my heart sing--I think most people in this climate feel that way. :) It's almost like the tough winter makes us appreciate the flowers' beauty even more. Seeing the first flowering bulbs is fun, but seeing the first native wildflower is even better!

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  5. I love trilliums! I have several different trillium in the woodland garden and one that I found in our woods. I think it is such a wonderful surprise to find them growing naturally. Great post!

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    1. Karin: I feel the same way. I remember as a child seeing a big patch of Great White Trilliums in the forest and it took my breath away! Your woodland garden must be stunning in person. It certainly is in your fabulous photos!

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  6. Beautiful Trilliums, I love them. How wonderful it must be to see them growing wild. Superb photos.

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    1. Thanks, Chloris! Yes, it is a pleasure to see them popping up in a wild setting. I can only imagine how beautiful some of the woods and savannahs were here before human settlement.

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  7. How fortunate you are to either inherit such wonderful plants – or to have gotten adopted by them. Nothing says woodland space better. Thanks for the reminder that I have to get some for my new garden. Or wait for them to show up.

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    1. Hi Lee: Yes, agreed on all counts! From what I've seen of your garden, it seems like the perfect place for Trilliums. I'll look forward to posts on the topic. ;-)

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  8. Oh! The red ones are so beautiful--it's really a deep wine red isn't it? I have stands of wild white trilliums on the forest floor by our stream, but nothing like these. Each year, I need to remember to go and just sit by them....loving their delicacy. Thank you!

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    1. Yes, wine red is the best description! I can see why it's called both Red and Purple Trillium. Large patches of Great White Trilliums on the forest floor is a lovely sight to behold! I agree--I need to pause and reflect in these settings because they are magical and fleeting! Thank you, Susie.

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  9. I love, love, love Trilliums and the pollinators in your garden do, too. beautiful photos of a wonderful wildflower. Happy WW.

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    1. Me, too, Gail. :) Thank you for your kind comments and for hosting one of my favorite memes! I'll never get tired of hunting for and learning about wildflowers!

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  10. The red Trilliums are pretty. I have a native white one that ages to purple and I just got a T. luteum last year that did come up but is tiny and I don't know if it will bloom, it has wonderful variegated leaves. Trilliums are so great, being adapted to the wet and dry seasons.

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    1. I really enjoy Trilliums of all species. They bloom during a particularly lovely time of year in my area and add their graceful beauty, like frosting on the cake. I hope your T. luteum will bloom for you this year!

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  11. It is a pretty flowes, a shame that stinky though:/

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    1. Hi Aga: It's not overpowering unless you get very close. And not very noticeable with just a few flowers. Still, a big patch of them near a window might be unpleasant. ;-)

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  12. What a sweet discovery! I love surprises like that. So true about the ephemeral quality of spring flowers. If you blink, you'll miss them. Hard to imagine something so pretty would smell so bad. It looks absolutely enchanting.

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    1. I agree, Cat. Plant surprises--especially the ephemerals or new plants--are so rewarding. When they're in full bloom, they're stinky and the flies are very active on them. But the scent isn't overpowering at the back of the garden.

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  13. The color is magnificent. Mine are all white (our natives).

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    1. Yes, I think it's the only deep red bloom in my garden (hadn't thought of that before). Well, unless I plant wine-colored annuals. The white Trilliums are favorites, too!

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  14. Ahhhh....a breath of fresh air from the east! Yes my dear neighbor, we are finally getting signs of spring in the way of rain, beautiful moss on our pathways and tulips!!!!! FINALLY! And your lovely images here are so welcomed in my heart! Thank you for coming by! Anita

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    1. Thank you, Anita. I'm a little bummed about the cool temps in the forecast for next week. But then I'm thinking, "It's not that cold, Beth!" Plus, cooler weather keeps the flowers that are blooming around a little longer. :) Enjoy the sunshine and the rain, Anita!

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  15. They are spectacular plants. I do find it amusing that a plant we British gardeners covet and spend lots of money on trying to establish may have arrived with you naturally!

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    1. That is interesting, Janet. The more I learn about native plant gardening, the more I realize most new plants I put in should be natives (with the exception of potted plants and a few non-invasive foundation plantings). The native plants of any given area require so much less care in the habitats they were "designed" for. But I enjoy any type of garden, as long as it isn't overrun with invasives. :)

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  16. We used to see so many trilliums when we lived in PA. The big banks of white trillium were especially beautiful. Lucky for you to have this trillium growing on your property! The rich color is very striking.

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    1. I agree--seeing a big grouping of Great White Trilliums takes my breath away! We have a lot of those, but only a few of these red ones.

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  17. What a lovely bloom, and your photos are beautiful! I've been looking for signs of the lone trillium I planted last year. You're so lucky to have wildflowers growing naturally on your property.

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    1. Thank you, Rose! Yes, it's really fun to hunt for them every spring. Some volunteer and seem to move around a lot, like the white Trilliums, and others tend to poke out in the same spots every year. I looked back at last year's posts to see when the Trilliums first appeared, and it was in May. Of course, you're ahead of me, but I imagine yours will emerge very soon. :)

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  18. Love Trillium . . . I have it in the woods behind our home . . . I will send pictures if and when they arrive . . . We are very late around here!

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    1. Yes, please do, Lynne! We seem to be late with most things, too, although some are emerging earlier than I remember (Virginia Waterleaf and Delphiniums). Makes sense, I guess, since they prefer cooler weather. Most of my other perennials aren't making much progress.

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  19. I liked your comment above about Wildflower Safari . . . I like to go on that kind of safari too . . . I may use your words from now on!

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    1. I know--my favorite kind of safari! It's one of the best things about early spring. :)

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  20. I love them but Trilliums are not the easiest plants to grow here in the North West of England although mine are flowering now. You are so lucky to have them growing wild on your doorstep.

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    1. They can be a little tricky, I guess, except in their natural setting. Congrats on your success with them. I do feel blessed to have them in abundance right outside the backdoor--even if it's for a very short time in the spring.

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  21. These are beautiful. I love trilliums but enjoy them from afar because my garden's soil tends to be too dry for them. Don't you love Nature's landscapes?

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    1. Yes, well-said Grace! It's a wonderful world and truly a gift. It's a blessing to be a caretaker of a small portion of it. :)

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  22. I too like this time of year for the trillium. Many nature walks are happening in our area, so I might be finding some myself. Our garden club planted some in the wildflower garden, but I have not check on them to see what is in bloom. They have the Great White, but I like that red of yours.

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    1. I'm enjoying following your coverage of the nature preserves, Donna. I enjoy those outings, too. We're fortunate to live in areas with plenty of opportunities to hike and see wildlife and wildflowers.

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  23. These display such beautiful blooms and I love the close up you got of it!

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    1. Thanks, Lee, I'm looking forward to seeing them again this spring, along with the Great White Trilliums!

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  24. Such amazing flowers. How lucky you are to have a patch in your yard - I have always resisted the urge to plant them, since they are so expensive and so fleeting, and I don't have enough confidence to think I could make them succeed.

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    1. I think if I was going to plant them, I might try bareroot plants. It's a little less expensive. But I do feel blessed to have them growing here with no effort excpet to hunt them down and enjoy them. :)

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  25. So simple and so beautiful! Great pictures, Beth!

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    1. Thank you, Tatyana. :) Yes, the Trilliums--of all kinds--are graceful beauties!

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  26. This really is a beautiful trillium! I have a number of Trillium cuneatum, but that is the only kind I have discovered on our property. It would be nice to have a variety!

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    1. I love the T. cuneatums and T. sessiles, too. I haven't found any here in on this property, but I noticed some emerging at a local nature center the other day. I really enjoy their variegated foliage. All Trilliums are beautiful and photogenic.

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  27. what a delightful plant, the colour, and the leaves

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    1. I agree. Love the look. A little stinky, but a beautiful plant!

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  28. I love trilliums too! I got one plant of each of erectum, grandiflorum, cuneatum and luteum back in 2004, but for different reason, only the T. cuneatum has been successful and multiplied well in my garden. I bought another grandiflorum earlier this spring, but it hasn’t yet emerged so I might have to complain, my cuneatums have been flowering for over a month so the grandiflorum should have emerged by now.

    Thanks for all the lovely photos, Trillium erectum is a beautiful one, I think I would like to add another one of those to my collection, although the trillium I really have my heart on is called Trillium grandiflorum 'snowbunting' – if you don’t know it, Google it, it is just gorgeous!! I wish I had deep enough pockets to fill the bottom of my garden with those :-)

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    1. Lucky you, Helene! I'd love to see your garden when the Trilliums are blooming! Oh yeah, I love those double Trilliums like 'Snowbunting.' It looks like a Peony or a Camellia bloom. But the sites I was looking at said each tuber is $75! Can't afford that, and not sure I'd spend it on one hybrid Trillium for that price. I'm happy with the wild ones outside the window. ;-)

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    2. Oh, $75! ‘Snowbunting’ cost £22 over here, still too expensive for my gardening budget though, so I haven’t got any yet, but I could always dream – of a whole field :-)

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  29. These are just gorgeous! How lucky to have them in the garden. Love those red petals. :o)

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    1. Yes, I feel fortunate to be able to walk out the door and see them, although they were truly a gift. I didn't expend any effort except to enjoy them. :)

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  30. Oh, it's so pretty!! That's so great to have the wildflowers growing in your yard. I am always excited when I find something like that growing wild. I am excited about what discoveries I may find in my new yard this year - I already have found a lot of Cinnamon ferns coming up. Hopefully there are a few other treasures!

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    1. Oh how exciting for you in your new home and garden! I remember it well, even though it was a long time ago for me! Enjoy the hunt for new plant discoveries!

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  31. What a treat it is to have those spring beauties! I love the trilliums, but I'm not sure if I've seen the red ones like that. I had to laugh at what you said about not thinking they should be planted by someone's back door.

    I hope your Virginia bluebells come up.

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    1. Yeah, I remember the scent from last year, and while it isn't too overpowering with just a couple of blooms, with a patch of these it could be a little unpleasant right by the house. ;-) I think some of the Virginia Bluebells have emerged! It's kind of hard to tell at this stage, and I may not get blooms this first year, but I hope they bloom next year!

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