White Trillium

(Trillium grandiflorum)

Trillium grandiflorum, commonly known as great white trillium or wood lily, is a simple, graceful perennial that is one of the most familiar and beloved of the spring woodland wildflowers in eastern North America. It is native to rich woods and thickets from Quebec to Ontario to Minnesota south to Alabama and Georgia. The leaves, petals and sepals all come in groups of three. From an underground rhizome, a stout, unbranched, naked stem rises in spring to 8-18" tall topped by an apical whorl of three prominently-veined, ovate to egg-shaped, green leaves (each typically to 3-4" long but sometimes to 6"). From the center of the leaf whorl emerges a single flower in April-May on an erect to leaning stalk rising above the leaves to 2-3" tall (pedunculate). Each flower (to 3 1/2" across) has three flaring, ovate, wavy-edged, white petals subtended by three smaller green sepals. The flower petals are reflexed at the tips and acquire pink tones with age. Eventually, the flowers give way to berry-like capsules. Its seeds are dispersed by ants. By late summer, the foliage will usually die to the ground, particularly if soils are allowed to dry. The genus name comes from the Latin word tres meaning three in reference to the leaves, petals and sepals all coming in groups of three, and the specific epithet is Latin for large-flowered.