Trillium Season

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Giant Purple Wakerobin

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for Trilliums. They’ve been among my favorite wildflowers for more than 50 years. According to the USDA PLANTS database, there are more than 35 species of Trillium in North America (plus a bunch of subspecies and varieties).

In our garden and woods we only have two species of Trillium. The one at the top of this post is Giant Purple Wakerobin, Trillium kurabayashii, which is native to southern Oregon and northern California. We’ve been growing a small clump of these for a few years and they’re looking particularly good this spring.

Giant Purple Wakerobin blossom detail

Giant Purple Wakerobin is in the group of sessile trilliums, meaning their flowers rise directly from the center of the three leaves, without a stalk. The actual sex parts of the flower, the stamens and pistil, are nestled down at the base of the petals.

Western Trillium flower buds

The other trillium we have is Western Trillium, Trillium ovatum. It’s native from British Columbia down to California and east to the Rocky Mountains. When fully open, the bright white flowers can be 3-4 inches across. In our woods, the flowers are just beginning to open this week.

Western Trilliums

We were delighted to find a few Western Trilliums in the woods behind our house the first year we moved here. Each year we’re finding a few more stems, only one or two in each spot, but all fairly close to each other. They’re far enough apart that I suspect that seeds have been spread by some insect, but that’s only an educated guess on my part. What I do know is that some years our deer take a hankering for trilliums and munch the tops off, much to my chagrin.

We’re enjoying a cool, leisurely spring which suggests that many of our wildflowers will be in bloom longer than some recent years. I photographed our Western Trilliums in bud just over a week ago and they still haven’t opened completely. I’ll keep photographing them as the flowers continue to develop.

Photo Note: The vertical photos in this post were made with my 100mm macro lens. The horizontal ones with my 300mm lens, which hadn’t been on my camera for five years until yesterday. I find it interesting to compare how I approach a subject with different lenses.

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