Trilliums In My Garden: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive

Trillium grandiflorum

Trillium grandiflorum was one of the first wildflowers I learned to recognize.

Trilliums have charmed and fascinated me ever since my days as a Girl Scout, when I learned to identify a few wildflowers. With three leaves and three petals, trillium practically named itself (tri = 3) and was easy to remember. I never set out to have a trillium collection, but I’ve never turned down an opportunity to acquire a new one, either. With my recent purchase of T. luteum, I now have five, possibly six, different trillium growing in my garden, and I thought I’d share them for Wildflower Wednesday.
Trillium grandiflorum smaller

Either a smaller T. grandiflorum, or possibly a different species?

These trilliums appear to be T. grandiflorum, but they are much smaller. (See photo below which illustrates the difference in size.) I don’t even remember when or from where I got them, but they have had several years to grow larger, and they haven’t. So I am not certain if they are really the same plant, or a different species.
Trillium recurvatum

Trillium recurvatum with offspring

I bought Trillium recurvatum at a plant sale several years ago. It was one bitty little thing, and I breathed a sigh of relief when it emerged from the ground after its first winter. This spring it has grown much taller than in past years, and I’m so pleased to see the seedlings growing around it.
Trillium cuneatum

Trillium cuneatum

Trillium cuneatum bears a superficial resemblance to T. recurvatum. They both have red flowers and mottled leaves. But the sepals of T. recurvatum curve down and point to the ground, while those of T. cuneatum point up. The leaves have different shapes as well. These four trilliums grow in the same bed, and the size differences are easier to see when you view them simultaneously:
Four different trilliums labeled

These four trilliums all grow in Fern Alley. Click on image to enlarge it.

I bought T. cuneatum from Sunshine Farm and Gardens, but here’s one trillium I acquired just by moving here:
Trillium erectum

Trillium erectum grows wild on our property.

T. erectum grows along the bank of the side brook, and I have also seen it growing in other spots along the glen. It seems to be fairly common in our area.

Last Saturday I went to a multi-vendor plant sale at the Ithaca High School in upstate NY, and I purchased T. luteum from the Adirondack Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society–of which I am a member, which qualified me for a discount.

Trillium luteum

Trillium luteum, a recent purchase

This trillium will join the others in Fern Alley, which is a nursery bed for my spring ephemerals. Eventually I hope to divide my trilliums following Margaret Roach’s instructions and plant them along the side brook where T. erectum already grows. But for now, I am just enjoying them.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

moonlake June 10, 2013, 9:37 pm

There was a picture in our paper yesterday of a double trillium, it was so pretty reminded me of a rose. I don’t have them growing in my garden but they do grow in the woods around our home. Enjoyed your website.

Raine Blunk June 2, 2013, 8:59 am

Great photos! Trilliums are really pretty. When I went to my cousin’s house in Ontario, I’ve seen a lot of these wildflowers inside their lawn.

Natalie May 31, 2013, 1:21 am

It is claimed that an astringent tonic derived from the root was useful in controlling bleeding and diarrhea.

veronicah rose May 28, 2013, 2:54 pm

We have them all through our woods. Trillium Grandiflorum are edible.

Diane C May 25, 2013, 8:46 pm

I think trillium are protected in Illinois as well. However, never thought to see if a nursery had some….duh!!

Lonnie Thaler May 25, 2013, 8:12 pm

I’ve heard the Trillium has 40-50 species. Trillium Erectum or red trillium is one of the most beautiful species. Trillium seeds are spread by ants because it has fleshy organs that attract these insects. I’ve seen a video showing how its seeds germinated with the help of these ants. It is really wonderful! Anyway, thanks for sharing! 😀

Deborah B May 24, 2013, 7:38 pm

Great pictures. We have T. erectum in our woods also, mainly on the steep banks along the creek. I think that’s the main place we see them because of the heavy deer browsing in other areas. We also are lucky enough to have T. undulatum (painted trillium) in the woods at the highest elevations on our place. I think they are the most beautiful.

Kathy Purdy May 24, 2013, 9:18 pm

Yes, I would love to see T. undulatum growing on my land. I would be thrilled!

Rose May 24, 2013, 11:27 am

Thanks for such an informative post, Kathy! I recently purchased my very first trillium at a native plant sale, and it was labeled simply “Woodland Trillium.” Looking at all your plants, I think it might be Trillium Recurvatum. Whatever it is, I do hope it likes it in my garden!

Kathy Purdy May 24, 2013, 11:51 am

Rose, see if you can get Trilliums by Frederick and Roberta Case out of the library. It will help you identify your trillium.

Teresa Marie May 24, 2013, 9:11 am

I also adore Trillium. I’m lucky to have then growing wild in my garden. As I naturalize and rescue the woodlands (from buckthorn and mustard garlic, I see more every year! They are distinctive and lovely.
TY for sharing.
Teresa Marie

Charlie@Seattle Trekker May 24, 2013, 1:06 am

I love trilliums and have two clumps in the garden. This was the first year they were absolutely beautiful. I am now quite anxious to expand my collection.

Linda May 23, 2013, 9:42 pm

Beautiful plants. Red Trillium is protected in New York State.

Gail May 23, 2013, 3:34 pm

They’re wonderful wildflowers Kathy! I love the T erectum and how wonderful that it occurs naturally on your property. T cuneatum is the happiest one in my garden and I love T luteum and that sweet fragrance. Happy WW. xo

Donna@Gardens Eye View May 23, 2013, 9:49 am

I have a trillium collection and obsession as well…I love adding to it….they are so charming and really beautiful in the wild.

commonweeder May 23, 2013, 9:28 am

I don’t have any trilliums in my garden, but on our local and very BEautiful Bridge of Flowers the trillium have about finished blooming, as have the single and double bloodroots. We still have a few primroses of various sorts still blooming. Earlier this week I saw that some magnificent Jacks in the pulpit were starting to bloom as well as an assortment of ladyslippers – all from our local Wildflower nursery Hillside Wildflower Nursery. We would NEVEr dig these from the wild.

bunchkel May 23, 2013, 9:23 am

I believe in Michigan trilliums are a protected species. They are very slow to spread as you have found out and might take 100 years to cover a very small woodland area. Preserve and protect these great wildflowers of the woods!

Donalyn May 23, 2013, 8:12 am

They are all so pretty Kathy – we have that same wild red growing along the creek. And I’m looking forward to seeing how the Trillium luteum does, since I bought that same one at the plant sale. Had a blast with you that day, by the way!

Lea May 23, 2013, 5:53 am

What a pretty place you have for them in front of the rock wall!
Lea’s Menagerie

Carol - May Dreams Gardens May 22, 2013, 9:33 pm

I have just one trillium in my garden, a rescue plant from a wooded area that was going to be flooded out to form a lake. They are captivating!

Jason May 22, 2013, 6:04 pm

You are very lucky to have the T. grandiflorum. They are so beautiful. I have some of the T. cuneatum, which I like, but it is not as elegant as grandiflorum.

Deirdre in Seattle May 22, 2013, 1:13 pm

Trillium kurabayashi is the first to bloom in my garden and lasts the longest. The white (maybe western) trilliums in my garden have come and gone. The T. lutea is just starting to bloom. I do love the trilliums. My big white (maybe western) Trillium seeds itself like crazy. I’ve learned to recognize the seedlings. They don’t have three leaves until the third year. I’m digging them out of the gravel driveway and replanting them around the yard. Someday I hope to have masses of them.