Friday, April 26, 2013


Just below our house along our driveway is a rock-house cave with a 15-foot waterfall.  In summer it is hidden and in deep shade.  In spring it is in view and the sunlight dappled hillsides are covered with a carpet of Trilliums.

Trillium grandiflorum or great white trillium, is the most common trillium on the slopes next to our cave.  The flowers are large and brilliant white.  After several days, these trilliums fade to a pale pink.
Trillium grandiflorum covering the hillside.

Trillium grandiflorum.

There are two less common species of trillium that I find next to our waterfall.  Trillium erectum, also known as purple trillium, wet-dog trillium or purple wake-robin, has a foul odor that attracts flies and beetles for pollination.  Purple trilliums are not really purple but are maroon or deep red.

Trillium erectus or purple trillium.

The flowers of the purple trillium are on long stalks making them droop.

An even less common trillium on our woods is Trillium cornuum, also known as nodding trillium.  Its flower is also on a stalk and tends to droop.

Tillium cornuum.

Trilliums have a unique method of seed dispersal.  Seeds are encased in a capsule that bends to the ground as the plant matures.  The capsules splits open dispersing the seeds.  Each seed has a structure called an elaiosome attached to it that attracts ants.  Ants carry the seeds away and consume the nutrient rich elaiosome and discard the seeds. 

Now use the word "elaiosome" in a sentence three times.


  1. Shelley, beautiful photos - aren't trilliums beautiful? We have a few here on our land, I'll have to see if I can find more now. Did you really post this at 3:39 am?

  2. Thank you Janice. It wasn't quite 9:39 am. I discovered my time set on the blog was not quite right (who know you had to set the time manually) but I usually do it really early in the morning while it is quite, peaceful, and usually dark :-)

  3. A carpet of trilliums. How wonderful. I didn't know that about the seed dispersal. Very interesting.

  4. I didn't know that about the seed dispersal. I know this flower for a long time but I only know few information about this flower.

    Robert Brown