I’ve been a sucker for trilliums as long as I can remember, going back to seeing them on the hillside as we drove from Glenville to my grandparents’ home in Spencer, West Virginia as a small child. The species we have in the Pacific Northwest are different from those in Appalachia, but no less beautiful.
Giant Purple Wakerobin, Trillium kurabayashii, is among the first of our trilliums to bloom. It’s native to southern Oregon and northern California but grows quite happily in our woodland-edge garden here in Bellingham. This is a plant that appreciates rich humus in woodland soil and a mix of sun and shade. In the wild I usually see it on forest edges.
Like all trilliums, each plant has a single set of three leaves arranged in a whorl at the top of the stem. If you pick it, you’ll likely kill the plant. Deer and other critters have the same impact and we’ve lost some trilliums in our woods to our deer.
This is one of the trilliums we refer to as “sessile” because the flower lacks a stem; the petals arise directly from the center of the whorl of leaves. The sex parts of the flower — stamens and pistil — are nearly hidden at the base of the three petals.
You can see more photos of giant purple wakerobin on my Pacific Northwest Wildflowers website.