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Trillium Trillium

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Trillium spp.
Phonetic Spelling
TRIL-ee-um
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Trilliums are a native North American wildflower in the lily family of which there are 38 species. In NC they are found in the mountains with a few in the coastal and Piedmont areas. The flowers all have 3 petals and 3 bracts of various colors and the bracts are often mottled.

Strictly speaking, trilliums have no above-ground stems or leaves. The stem is an extension of the underground rhizome and the leaves are the bracts of the flower. The flowers can be held above the bracts or be found hiding under them. There are 2 major groups of Trilliums- those with the flower held above the bracts on a stem and those without stems or sessile. Flowers can be large and showy or small in size. 

They prefer rich, loamy or humusy soils with good drainage and neutral pH for the most part in partial to full shade. Avoid afternoon sun and provide moisture during the growing season but drier when dormant. 

Use these plants in the shade garden for spring color, under trees or a woodland site. They are slow to spread but long-lived.

Trillium seedlings take 2 or 3 years to develop their characteristic three-leaf structure, so if you see long, thin leaves poking out of the soil around your trillium, don't pull them out! It may take 7 or more years for a trillium to grow from seed to a mature, blooming plant. Cheap trilliums are almost always poached from the wild--purchase plants only from reputable dealers! Seeds are dispersed by ants and ground-nesting wasps, such as Yellow Jackets. Deer love to eat Trilliums.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.  Slugs and snails are occasional pests and leaf spot, rust and smut are occasional disease problems. It does not transplant well.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • T. lancifolium 'Shotgun Wedding'
T. lancifolium 'Shotgun Wedding'
Tags:
#purple#red#white#showy flowers#yellow#poisonous#perennial#pink flowers#showy#shade tolerant#native perennial#shade garden#herbaceous#NC native#well-drained soil#perennial flowers#neutral ph#herbaceous perennial#native garden#rich soil#spring interest#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#naturalized area#forb#NC Native Pollinator Plant#loamy soils tolerant#native#perennials#loam#partial shade tolerant#loamy soil#HS302#shade flowers#audubon#woodlands#heavy shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • T. lancifolium 'Shotgun Wedding'
T. lancifolium 'Shotgun Wedding'
Tags:
#purple#red#white#showy flowers#yellow#poisonous#perennial#pink flowers#showy#shade tolerant#native perennial#shade garden#herbaceous#NC native#well-drained soil#perennial flowers#neutral ph#herbaceous perennial#native garden#rich soil#spring interest#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#naturalized area#forb#NC Native Pollinator Plant#loamy soils tolerant#native#perennials#loam#partial shade tolerant#loamy soil#HS302#shade flowers#audubon#woodlands#heavy shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Trillium
    Family:
    Melanthiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Has been used medicinally through the ages as astringents, coagulants, expectorants, and uterine stimulants.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Distribution:
    Throughout
    Wildlife Value:
    Deer will browse trilliums
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 7 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Six sectioned reddish berry-like capsule up to 1.25 inches with small brown seeds each with a protein-rich fleshy elaiosome attached to attract ants to disperse the seed.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are solitary with 3 petals and 3 bracts. The petals can be yellow, pink, purple or white and the bracts can be green or mottled. Flower size varies as to species
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    The stem is just an extension of the horizontal rhizome and produces tiny, scale-like leaves (cataphylls). The larger green and sometimes mottled "leaves" are actually bracts of the flower. They are oval and in whorls of 3.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stem is an extension of the underground rhizome and generally green
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Unknown
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknownn
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Roots