Trillions of Trilliums

April 11, 2014

Right now is prime Trillium time in the forests of Western Washington. They are bright pure white, but will gradually turn pink and may darken all the way to purple before the flower withers.  It ages very gracefully.  I should take notes.

 This wild lily had an aura of magic for me as a child (still does). My mother would fiercely tell me never to pick them, impressing on me: “It won’t bloom again for seven years!  SEVEN YEARS!”

 There is a fair amount of truth in that; picking the bloom and it’s three-part leaf will set it back a few years at least. The plant has lost most of a season’s worth of photosynthesis and the next year has to draw on whatever reserves of energy it has left in the bulb.

 The Western Trillium likes bright shade and moist but not wet conditions. They can be difficult to dig up and move; often the bulb is very deep. But planting out a Trillium “raised in captivity” works fine. It does fine in home gardens and will multiply and form clusters of blooms when it’s really happy.  The bulbs multiply, sending up more stems, and seeds will sprout as well.  Don’t mean to brag, but Brian counted 22 blossoms last week on one clump in our yard.  Top that!

 The first year seedlings are just a narrow blade approximately ½” long. Second-year seedlings are a single fat leaf about the size of a dime.  Along about the third year, they show the tell-tale three leaflets, but they won’t bloom until the fifth year at the earliest.


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