Random Plant: White trillium

White trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum, Liliaceae) photographed 04/27/2008 near Blissfield Michigan.

Within the next couple of weeks many eastern hardwood forests will be blanketed with white trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum, Liliaceae).  Each spring this particular patch in southeast Michigan covers several thousand square feet.  These individuals grow on a north-facing slope above a floodplain.  While common above this elevation, they are completely absent in the floodplain itself.

White trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum, Liliaceae) photographed 04/27/2008 near Blissfield Michigan.

White trilliums grow in these dense clusters because of two weak dispersal methods.  First, they create spreading networks of underground rhizomes that give rise to many clonal plants.  Second, seeds are dispersed over a slightly greater area mostly with the help of ants.  Neither of these mechanisms cover a great distance, resulting in these concentrations of plants.

White trillium (Trillium grandiflorum, Liliaceae) photographed 04/27/2008 near Blissfield Michigan.

These perennials are known for their large, white, three-petaled flowers that turn pink with age.  Some flowers are pink from the time they open, and double flowers sometimes occur.  From personal observations it seems that the pink form may occur in under 1% of this population, but I have yet to find a double-flowered form.

White trillium (Trillium grandiflorum, Liliaceae) photographed 05/07/2011 near Blissfield Michigan. This flower has turned pink with age.

The flowers of these spring ephemerals will be gone by mid-May, and those that are successfully fertilized will produce small fruit and seeds.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Random Plant: White trillium

  1. Pingback: Random Plant: Virginia spring beauty | The Life of Your Time

  2. Pingback: Random Plant: Cutleaf toothwort | The Life of Your Time

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