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Large-flowered Trillium Flowering

5-25-16  large-flowered trillium 100

Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), also known as White Wake-Robin, is our largest and showiest species of trillium.  It can be found throughout New England’s rich woods, sometimes carpeting large expanses of the forest floor in May and June.  All species of trillium, as their name implies, have parts arranged in threes, or in multiples of three (petals, bracts, leaves, stamens, carpels).

Nectar, not fragrance, attracts long-tongued bumblebees to Large-flowered Trillium’s funnel-shaped blossoms.  Self-pollination occasionally occurs, aided by the fact that as the flowers age, their stigmas reflex downward and come in contact with the anthers.  The flowers are exceptionally long-lived, remaining open and fertile for two to three weeks.

When they first open, Large-flowered Trillium’s petals are white.  As the flowers age, they become pale to deep pink (see insert).  (There is also a pink form of Large-flowered Trillium which is pink from the time of opening.) The seeds that form are dispersed primarily by ants, but yellow jackets, harvestmen and white-tailed deer also contribute to their dispersal.  It takes two years for the seeds to germinate and once established, Large-flowered Trillium plants typically require seven to ten years in optimal conditions to reach flowering size.

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9 responses

  1. mariagianferrari

    Gorgeous!!! Love trillium 🙂

    May 25, 2016 at 7:51 am

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    • I almost mentioned that it was Ontario’s flower, but in the interest of length, decided not to. Very nice!

      May 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm

  3. Pat Foss

    I have seen a dark red Trillium – looks like Trillium- is it something else?

    May 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    • Yes, Pat, that is a trillium, and is called Wake Robin, or Red Trillium or Stinking Benjamin. It’s scientific name is Trillium erectum.

      May 25, 2016 at 1:39 pm

  4. I didn’t realize it took that long to flower. You’d think there wouldn’t be a lot of them at that rate. Sadly, around here, we only have the red. I have to travel to see whites.

    May 25, 2016 at 9:51 pm

  5. Lindsay Putnam

    I have never seen the white trilliums (Large Flowering) on this side of the Green Mts. I see them commonly in the Champlain Valley however. I thought it was because of soils. Do others find them around here? Mary, can you elaborate on habitat requirements?

    May 27, 2016 at 6:47 am

    • Hi Lindsay,
      This photograph was taken in the Champlain Valley! I, too, rarely see them on this side of the Green Mts. and I’m not sure why that is. They need rich soil and deciduous woods but we certainly have plenty of that. Not sure why they’re not more common here!

      May 27, 2016 at 7:24 am

  6. Lindsay Putnam

    Thanks, Mary. I can’t find anything online which suggests why it would not be found around here. Curious!

    May 30, 2016 at 9:20 am

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