Wildflower of the Week: Red Trillium

Welcome to the first Wildflower of the Week! I go on walks often and since I’m not a native New Yorker I don’t recognize a lot of the wildflowers I see along roadsides and in the woods. And as much as I love my Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern/North-Central North America, I really don’t want to haul it around on hikes. So I just take a mental picture (or a real one if I have my camera long) and look it up when I get home. But it’s always much nicer when you already know what the wildflowers are.

So this week is Red Trillium.

Red Trillium (also called Purple Trillium or by the romantic name Wakerobin) is native to midwestern and eastern woodlands with rich soils and blooms from April through June. The name is derived from the three petals of the flower, three sepals (green leaves sprouting from the base of a blossom) radiating between the petals, and the three leaves of each stem. Not a sweet-scented flower, it is a lovely and dark, if somewhat elusive, woodland delight.

There are three other varieties of trillium – Painted Trillium, which is white with a red blaze in the center; the Toadshade or Sessile Trillium native to the old northeast and south and “sessile” refers to the fact that the blossom is stalkless and sits directly on the three leaves; and the Prairie Trillium, which is similar to the Toadshade, but which is native to woodlands from Iowa to Ohio and south.

All four varieties have three large and rather distinctive leaves which all radiate from the same place on the stem. Once you can identify trillium, you might find yourself noticing them all over the woods!

I found this one on a walk along a lake – it was hiding on the lakeside of the trail and once I spotted this beauty, I noticed others in the woods, too.

Do you live outside of the Hudson Valley? Do you have uncommon or native wildflowers near you? Take pictures and submit your own Wildflower of the Week article!

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  1. […] the hummingbirds food or to watch out for turtles crossing the road or even when those wonderful wildflowers are in […]



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