P90407Other species must be more interesting than what is native here. There are supposedly as many species of Trillium as there are of Yucca; forty-nine. All but ten are native to North America. The others are in eastern Asia. They are desirable and respected perennials to those who are familiar with them. White trillium is the official wildflower of Ohio, as well as the official floral emblem of Ontario. Ours would not likely qualify for such status.

The few around here appear only briefly about this time of year, and bloom with these small purplish burgundy flowers. They are only a few inches high, so are easy to miss. By the time they get noticed they are finished with their bloom. Their foliage lasts only until the weather starts to get warm in late spring or early summer. During their brief season, they somehow manage to store enough resources to repeat the process for many years.

This particular species is supposedly known as ‘giant wakerobin’, or Trillium chloropetalum. It is so diminutive, that I can not help but wonder about those that are not ‘giant’. Others that I see around here have more rusty red or ruddy brown flowers that stay closed most of the time. Western trillium, Trillium ovatum, lives here too; and I may have seen its foliage without distinguishing it from giant wakerobin, but I have never seen it bloom.

The trilliums that are native here live in partial shade out in forests, but away from more aggressive plants. They do not transplant easily, and do not like refined gardens.

Other trilliums in other regions bloom with bigger flowers in white, pink, red, purple, pale yellow or green. They must be more impressive than ours, and should at least be more adaptable to home gardens and landscapes.

14 thoughts on “The Overlooked Trillium

  1. I think spring wildflowers, and especially spring ephemeral, are much more of an acquired taste–or perhaps we adore them here in the Northeast because they give us hope that 6 months of snow and ice are coming to an end.

    But you can grow so many of the gorgeous things outdoors that I am reduced to keeping in containers or treating as tropicals. Even your alstromeria are far showier than ours. Enjoy that!


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    1. I enjoy them only because others enjoy them. I figure they must be important. Otherwise, there really is always something better in bloom. I actually think that in the area where this trillium is, there is too much landscaping and colorful flowers. The redwood forests do not need any landscaping, and some landscaping is just clutter. In that regard, more subdued wildflowers have certain appeal.


    1. There are certainly quite a few of them, and the various species live in various ecosystems. When I was studying Yucca, I found that there are only a few states that lack some species or another of Yucca. (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska and Hawaii lack Yucca.) I actually brought one back from Oklahoma. Because I was there in winter, I would not have noticed any trillium.


    1. Yes. The native California buckeye is ‘twice deciduous’. It foliates in the spring, but only until the foliage shrivels in warm and dry summer weather. It then refoliates for autumn and part of winter, only to defoliate after first frost. It looks dead through late summer and early autumn. It is amazing that it can collect enough resources during its limited foliation to survive.

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    1. It is endemic to the West Coast only. It is the only one I have seen bloom here, ore actually anywhere. However, it does not always look like this. the flowers are typically closed like tight tulips and rather brownish. or dark red.

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    1. Those that grow here are not impressive at all. I really do not understand the allure. They certainly are not as impressive as the primroses that grow wild there.


  2. A white species grows in Western Washington around the Pacific Northwest. They have been hurt by people trying to move them. The native plant society says leave them along. I don’t believe Idaho has one we have the various forms of the sego lily.

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    1. I have tried to move some at my home that were in the way of a driveway, but none survived. The native speices are very sensitive to transplant. However, those that I though I killed regenerated and emerged right through the driveway precisely where I thought I removed them from! These species do not likely get poached often, just because they are so difficult to transplant. Those that are easier to transplant are more likely to be taken.

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