Trillium Ovatum

Trillium

The Trillium flower, known as the Wake Robin, is a sign that spring has just arrived and a treasure to find in northwest forests. They are slow growing and if picked the plant will likely die off, so please don't pick them. We suggest you take a photo of the flower instead!

Habitat:  Moist to wet woods, stream banks, shaded open areas with well-drained soil.

Description:  Showy perennial, with three white petals turning pink to purple with age and three green sepals beneath; single, terminal on a stalk. The flower blooms from April to June. Trillium are grown from rhizomes and produce three-sectioned seed pods.

Interesting Facts:

  • Trillium is also known as wake robin because they bloom in early spring, often before robins return to their nests from winter.
  • Trillium is pollinated by ants. Each seed has a little oil-rich appendage that is attractive to ants.  The ants carry the seeds back to their nests where they eat the appendages or feed them to the larvae and then discard the remaining seeds on rubbish piles.  This is a reasonably effective mechanism for seed dispersal.  Other spring-flowering “ant plants” include bleeding heart and wild ginger.
  • Trillium seeds take 2 years to germinate and another 7 years to bloom flowers.
  • Roots have been used as medicine, mainly for poultices.
  • In folklore, trillium symbolizes modest beauty.

Invasives that threaten the property:

  1. English Ivy - this non-native plant threatens forest land all over the northwest by smothering out native plants and depleting habitat for wildlife. In Trillium Park the ivy has taken over much of the forest floor, making it difficult for the Trillium to reproduce and covering existing Trillium.
  2. Yellow Arch Angel - Originally sold as an ornamental ground cover, this invasive non-native plant grows to about 6" tall and has escaped nearby properties into the park. Yellow Arch Angel has green leaves with a white center and grows in thick patches. It is also threatening the Trillium habitat.

Stewardship

Park Stewardship is an important part of helping the Trillium thrive in the park. Habitat restoration and maintenance of the trails are an ongoing volunteer effort. The Stewardship Program  has volunteer opportunities to steward this park and many others. There are also drop-in work parties that focus on invasive removal, trail work and other park maintenance tasks.