Plant Profile: Trillium

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The white trillium has been the provincial flower of Ontario since 1937.

white trillium at

The name ‘trillium’ comes from the Latin for ‘three’. The plant has large, often white, three-petaled flowers above three broad bracts that look like leaves. They are members of the lily family.   The trilliums usually bloom in early May.

The root stalk of the plants were used by First Nation Peoples to cure a variety of aliments. They collected them and chewed on them. The Purple Trillium was used by herbalists to treat gangrene.

Trilliums love to grow in the shade. They prefer rich, moist but well drained soil. The blooms do not survive if picked and the plant does not transplant well. You might be lucky to grow them from seed. In mid summer green berry like seeds develop and a sticky oil substance drop to the ground. New plants will grow from these but they will attract ants. The ants take the seeds to another part of the forest, eat off the oil and leave the seeds and a new plant grows in a new location.  My trilliums grow in a north facing garden and get very little sunlight.  Plants were purchased from a local garden center.

When the white trilliums are just about finished, you will notice something quite fascinating

The white trillium looks like it has has been painted by the garden fairies and is now … pink!  (not one of my best photos)  This is actually something that happens in Nature on a regular basis.  As the white trillium ages it changes to a pink colour.

Nature never fails to amaze me.

garden line

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