Trillium-Wake Robin

Author: Casey Sanders

E-mail Address: cjsand@arches.uga.edu

Table of Contents:

 Photos courtesy of the UGA Herbarium

lt: T.catesbaei, rt: T.grandiflorum

 

Higher Taxon:

Family: Liliaceae

Description: From Brickell and Zuk's Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Trilliums (also collectively called Wake Robins, Wood Lilies, and Trinity Flower) have over 30 species in their genus. Further, the plants are "rhizomatous, deciduous perennials," and have "erect, rarely procumbent, short stems, each bear an apical whorl of 3 lance-shaped or elliptical to ovate or diamond-shaped, net-veined, often silver or purple -marbled leaves. Upright or nodding, terminal, solitary, funnel or cup- shaped flowers, with whorls of 3 leaf-like, often reflexed outer sepals, and 3 inner petals, are either stalkless and surrounded by the leaves (Brickell and Zuk, 1996).

Species List: The species list catalogs the scientific and some of the common names for Trillium. Varieties and hybrids are not included.

Identification Guide: Radford, Ahles and Bell present the following identification key in the Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. This key distinguishes the 2 species, T. catesbaei and T. grandiflorum , from more than 30 other species in the Trilllium genus:

"1. Flowers peduncled; leaves not mottled

A. Petioles more than 4 mm long.

1.Sepals falcate, often undulate; peducle usually divergent or recurved.................................................T. catesbaei

2.Sepals straight, rarely undulate; peduncle erect.

a. Petals with red inverted "V" at base; sepals usually less than 1cm wide ........ ......................... T. undulatum

b. Petals uniformly white to pink; sepals usually more than 1 cm wide ............ ........................ T. grandiflorum

 

B. Petioles less than 4mm long or absent.

1. Sepals falcate, often undulate..........................................................................................................T. catesbaei

2. Sepals straight, rarely undulate.

a. Peduncle recurved, petals white to pink; anthers purple..............................................................T. cernuum

b. Peduncle straight, erect or divergent; petals reddish, yellowish, green or white to pink; anthers not purple.

* Petals less than 8mm wide; leaves oblong, obtuse............................................................................T. pusillum

Petals wider; leaves mostly ovate to reniform, acute or acuminate.

Petals imbricate at base, forming a straight tube; stigmas more than 5 mm long, straight or arched;

petals white to pink..................................................................................................................T. grandiflorum

Petals not imbricate, or overlapping and not forming a tube; stigmas less than 5 mm long,

recurved and almost circinate; petals white, pink, reddish, yellowish or green....................................T. erectum"

(Radford et al., 1964).

General Information: Trillium is from the Greek "tris" meaning three, because all plant parts occur in 3's (Huxley,1992). They grow in deep soil that is moist, yet well drained, and rich in humus. Also, most Trilliums prefer acidic to neutral soil in deep or partial shade (Brickell and Zuk, 1996). Native Americans once believed Trilliums to be a powerful love potion if eaten, and they also used the leaves and blossoms to make a poultice to treat skin sores and insect bites (Martin, 1989). Today Trilliums are used for ornamental purposes, but it takes 6 yrs for a plant to propagate from seed to flower. The first year rhizomes develop, then several years of increasing numbers of leaves and finally the flower blooms (Adams et al., 1996).

Annually on the last week of April, a wildflower walk is held in Tennessee, contact: Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, Great Smoky Mtns. National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Rd. Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738. Or call (615)-436-1256.

To see more photos and for more information on Trilliums:

Visit N.C. Natural's Wildflower Page and Jim McClements' Trillium page

References:

Adams, Kevin and M. Casstevens. Wildflowers of the Southern Appalachains. John F. Blair Publisher, Winston-Salem, N.C. 1996.

Brickell, Chris and J.D Zuk. The American Horticultural Society's Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. DK Publishing Inc. New York, N.Y. 1996, ISBN 0-7894-1943-2.

Campbell, Carlos C., W.F. Hutson, H.L. Macon, and A.J. Sharp. Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Enlarged Edition. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 1964.

Dodson, Calaway H. The New Encyclopedia Britannica Macropedia vol.13. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Chicago. 1998, ISBN 0-85229-633-0.

Duncan, Wilbur H. and J.T. Kartesz. Vascular Flora of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, Athens GA. 1981, ISBN 0-8203-0538-3.

Ducan, Wilbur H. and L.E. Foote. Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States. Universtiy of Georgia Press, Athens Ga. 1975, ISBN 0-8203-0347-x.

Hutson, Robert W., W.F.Hutson, and A.J. Sharp. Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Revised and Expanded 5th Edition. Windy Pines Publishing, Northbrook, Ill. 1995.

Huxley, Anthony. The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening vol.4. The Stockton Press, NY. 1992, ISBN 0-333-47494-5.

Jones, S.B. and N.C. Coile. Distribution of the Vascular Flora of Georgia. University of Georgia Department of Botany, Athens, GA. 1988.

Martin, Laura C. Southern Wildflowers. Longstreet Press, Atlanta. 1989, ISBN 0-929264-17-7.

Radford, Albert E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. Manual to theVascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N.C. 1964.

Shaw, Dr. Elizabeth A. (present compiler and producer). Gray Herbarium Index vol. 9. G.K. Hall and Company. Boston, Mass. 1978.

Wofford, Eugene B. Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Blue Ridge. University of Georgia Press, Athens,Ga. 1989, ISBN 0-8203-1049-2.

Wiley, Leonard. Rare Flowers of North America. Published by the author, Portland Oregon, 1968.

Thanks to Beth Shapiro for scanning all photos and to Bryan McLucas for his patience and time!

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