Simply The Best-March

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Birch boughs enough piled everywhere!–
All fresh and sound from the recent axe.
Time someone came with cart and pair
And got them off the wild flower’s backs.

They might be good for garden things
To curl a little finger round,
The same as you seize cat’s-cradle strings,
And lift themselves up off the ground.

Small good to anything growing wild,
They were crooking many a trillium
That had budded before the boughs were piled
And since it was coming up had to come.

excerpt from~ Robert Frost’s poem: Pea Brush

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I love the poet, Robert Frost, as much as I love the wildflower trillium.  I posted about trilliums at Beautiful Wildlife Garden last week.  But there are so many different trilliums that are native to New York, I wanted to continue the post with a very unusual variety, Red Trillium or Trillium sessile.  As you may know trilliums are part of the Lily family, and I affectionately call them the “lilies of the woods“.

T. grandiflorum

T. grandiflorum

Trilliums all have the same basic structure.  They grow from a rhizome and put out 3 whorled leaves.  The typical trillium, that I see growing throughout the woods in spring, are trillium grandiflorum.  This variety supports a large white flower on a short stalk above the leaves.  The yellow native trillium erectum is similar except the stem supporting the pale yellow flower is much longer, and the flowers tower over the leaves.

I chose to highlight for Dozen for Diana at Elephant’s Eye meme (my Simply the Best series) the more unusual red trillium sessile another native.  One can immediately see from the image at the top of the post, that the leaves are different from the other 2 native trilliums pictured here.  They are mottled and contrast nicely with the dark red unusual flower.  Can you see a pattern in my first three wildflowers I have highlighted.  Each has mottled unusual leaves.  Isn’t nature beautiful?

The flower from trillium sessile grows directly above the leaves with no stalk.   Many times the flower will remain closed, but once it unfurls, it immediately catches your eye.  As the flower ages the petals of the flower elongate as they are in the picture above.

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T. erectum

They say that this trillium will also catch notice of your sense of smell as it has foul odor described as rotting food.  The smell attracts pollinators such as flies (Carrion flies) and beetles.  I only have a couple growing so far, and have not noticed a bad smell emanating from this trillium.  But I will be on the lookout for the pollinators and the smell this spring.

T. sessile grows in rich moist woods in part to full shade. The flowers can bloom from April to June, and will last longer if they do not dry out.  The foliage will die back by mid-summer.  Trilliums are like many spring bulbs where it is best to let the foliage die back naturally so they can gather their reserves for flowering the next year. Rhizomatous plant that is difficult to propagate from seed.

 

 

 

Origin

Trilliums are a woodland with most species coming from North America, and a few species found in Asia. The sessile group is only found in North America while the group that flower from stems can be found in North America and Asia.

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Trilliums are best planted and left to establish themselves over the years.  Once they have flowered they set seed and dying back.  The seed are dispersed by ants through a process called myrmecochory.   Trilliums can be found with another favorite of mine Hepatica and are a great addition to the garden.  Whatever you do, do not dig these up in the wild.   T. sessile is listed as state threatened in Michigan and state endangered in New York, and it is illegal dig them up.  Find a reputable nursery or supplier.

 

 

Name

T. sessile is also known as Toadshade, Red trillium and Wake-robin.  This species gets its name from the Latin word sessilis which means low sitting referring to the flower that rises from the leaves stemless.  T. sessile is often mistaken for other trilliums:

The flower somewhat resembles Purple Trillium (T. erectum) but is distinguished by its lack of stalk and closed appearance. Several other stalkless species that appear closed are Little Sweet Betsy (T. cuneatum), an ill-scented southeastern species with large flowers up to 3 (7.5 cm) long and weakly mottled leaves; Yellow Trillium (T. luteum), in southern and midwestern areas, with yellow, lemon-scented flowers and mottled leaves; Green Wake-Robin (T. viride), also in southern and midwestern areas, with narrow, greenish, clawed petals up to 2 (5 cm) long; and Prairie Trillium (T. recurvatum), a midwestern plant with erect, clawed, maroon petals, drooping sepals, and mottled leaves.  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

 

 

Uses

IMG_5446The leaves of trilliums can eaten raw in a salad and taste like sunflower seeds.  Or they can be cooked and eaten as greens although taking the leaves from the plant will reduce its ability to grow in subsequent years.  This plant can also induce vomiting if eaten so be careful. The berries it produces are considered a poison.

This plant has been used medicinally to treat tumors, or in a poultice made from the leaves and crushed roots as a treatment for boils.

 

 

 

Folklore

Mountain folklore has that if you pick this trillium it will rain.  This plant was used by Native Americans as an eye medicine and to ease the pain of childbirth.  It is said that Native American women used the boiled root as a love potion. A portion was dropped into the food of the desired man and you waited for the results. There is a great story in Laura Martin’s book, Wildflower Folklore, about a young girl who tries to use this potion on a Chief’s son. She boils the root and tries to put it in the young man’s food, but instead she trips and falls and the potion ends up in the food of an ugly old man. When he eats the food he follows the girl around begging her to marry him.  I love stories like this.

 

 

Language of Flowers

Trilliums are said to mean modest beauty.  Since they are part of the lily family they can also mean purity elegance and sweetness.

 

 

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 Lilies of the Woods

Through the shadows

of early woods,

Carpets of white

arise in pools of light.

Spreading out far and wide

in glorious song of spring’s arrival.

Donna Donabella

 

 

 

Next up on the blog:   The last 2 color posts are coming up:  yellow for GBBD, and green for Wildflower Wednesday.  Of course don’t miss the new seasonal meme, Seasonal Celebrations.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.  So drop by to check out all the blooms this Friday.  I will also be joining Katarina for her Blooming Friday meme where the theme is My Jewel.  I consider trilliums to be the jewels of the wildflowers in my garden.

I hope you will join me for my weekly posts, every Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


58 comments

  1. Nell Jean says:

    Trilliums followed by native azaleas, does it get any better? I never knew you could eat trilliums. Thank you for all the information and folklore.

  2. easygardener says:

    Fascinating information. I never knew the seeds were dispersed by ants. They are beautiful flowers and I wish I could grow them but they struggle in my light soil.
    Have a good weekend.

    • Donna says:

      It seems many of my wildflowers use ants to disperse seeds…fascinating and I have a new respect for ants…hope your weekend has been lovely!

    • Donna says:

      Mary it is amazing how widespread this wildflower is in the US. It indeed is a sight to behold to come across a patch blanketing the woodland floor. Thx for popping in!!

  3. Becky says:

    I still have to wait to see trilliums here. So far my flowers have been limited to a few pathetic Johnny Jump ups and brave snow drops, but signs of the beauty to come are everywhere. I wonder how hungry I would have to be before I would even consider eating a trillium?

    • Donna says:

      I have a few brave crocus, winter aconite and snowdrops. Nothing else blooming, but the pond is thawed and the earthworms are out so I expect much to happen as it warms for about a week starting Sunday. I cannot wait to see the trilliums in April. I received the wildflower book you recommended and love it. Thx!!

    • Donna says:

      This was a new trillium for me and I had completely forgotten I had planted it since it tok a few years for it to show up!! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Donna says:

      Zinnia thx for visiting…so wonderful to here how far and wide trilliums can be found…I hope you are having a grand weekend.

  4. Elephant's Eye says:

    Ooh Trilliums! What gorgeous leaves.

    I’ll add your post next Friday when I do my next Dozen for Diana. Will also be an – I didn’t know you could eat that!

  5. The Sage Butterfly says:

    These are so lovely, Donna. I really appreciate all the information about these beautiful woodland plants. I did not know you could eat parts of them…hmm-mmm…I am thinking of salad.

    • Donna says:

      I thought the same thing Karin about the taste. I am unsure I would pick mine since they are still growing in and picking the leaves would reduce their ability to thrive. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. ramblingwoods says:

    LOL..I guess we both do like Frost…LOL… To say this is new info to me would be something I have to add to every post. I have a shady section of garden in the back and have wanted to put in some woodland plants… I now have my wildflower and native plant books out looking up the flowers that you suggested. I would take any seeds you offer thank you? I wondered if seeds would have a harder time than plants coming into my milkweed patch as we have left it wild for the past 3 years….Michelle

    • Donna says:

      Michelle, I will look to see what I have. I hope to try to grow seedlings as well and if I have any volunteer plants I will also end them…happy to share…if you have some open areas the seeds just need to be cast and walked on…as long as they are started early enough to make sure they get plenty of rain it should be fine.

  7. Tootsie says:

    I am just so happy to have the chance to visit here today!! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all could tour each friday’s flaunting gardens together and in person? I would love it!
    I wish I had more time to visit all of my favorites everytime you post!
    Thank you so much for linking in and sharing your post with my party today!
    I have shared your post this week with the Tootsie Time Facebook page.
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    (¯`v´¯)
    `*.¸.*´Glenda/Tootsie
    ¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

  8. tina says:

    That story about the love potion is pretty neat. I like to hear folklore about plants. I was working in my garden today and was stunned to see the trilliums are already up. No sessile ones here, just the white ones and a few red ones.

  9. Jen says:

    I remember being very young, and being told never to pick them, they were so rare in our forests…that has stuck with me forever.

    Beautiful shots.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

    • Donna says:

      It the same here Jen. They are protected so picking is a no-no because they are so rare…add to that the more you pick the more you reduce their ability to thrive and return…I will just look in awe at them I think!!

  10. Grace says:

    Hi Donna. I love that little folk tale about the girl dropping the tincture on the old man. Cute. I’ve never detected a bad smell on the trillium flowers. They’re so pretty when spotted among the ferns and such, blooming in the forest. Kind of like finding an Easter egg. But we must never pick them… 🙂

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Have a great weekend.

    • Donna says:

      That is right Grace…no picking unless of course they are your own…I think the only ones that smell bad are the sessile…I will let you now what I discover this year..glad you enjoyed the post.

  11. Larry says:

    Very beautiful! How I love trilliums although I’ve only had a few in the gardens for the past couple years… I decided to rectify that situation this year and have a great many ordered… Larry

    • Donna says:

      Larry that is wonderful. I have a few patches that are slowly growing in…they are so worth the wait though…glad you enjoyed the trillium…

  12. Alberto says:

    Very good, funny and useful plant profile! I take you love this plant and you passed that to your readers, I’ll look more carefully for t. dens-canis we have as natives here…

    • Donna says:

      Alberto you are so perceptive…I am glad my love of this plant was easy to see in my post. I would love to see and hear more about your native trillium!

  13. Donna says:

    I did know Trillium can be used medicinally, but never realized they could be used in salads. Amazing what nature offers up. You poem is lovely, they really do appear as carpets of white among the dappling light of the forest.

    • Donna says:

      Thank you Donna. I am glad you enjoyed the poem…you know my poetry means a lot to me and I count you as a special friend and critic…so if you like the poem, I am happy…I am finding such fascinating info about my wildflowers and enjoying sharing it!!

    • Donna says:

      Debbie as with so many wildflowers one should use caution eating too many of these leaves. Also if you eat too many leaves of the trillium you can kill off the plant or reduce the size of the patch…love to know if anyone tries the leaves….

  14. Jean says:

    All the trilliums are such beautiful flowers. I don’t see many growing on my property; I don’t think the conditions are wet enough for them. But some years, we get painted trillium growing in the ditch along the side of the dirt road. When they appear, it’s always a special treat.

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