Trillium, from triplum, triple, all the parts being in threes.
Perennial. Moist, rich open woods. Nova Scotia to Minnesota and Missouri, southward to North Carolina. Abundant in northern Ohio. April, May.
Large, vertical, with a few coarse roots.
Stout and simple, bearing at its summit a whorl of three rather large leaves and a large terminal flower.
Rhombic-ovate or rhombic-oval, acuminate, more or less ribbed, net-veined, one and a half to four inches wide, sessile, in a whorl of three at the summit of the stem.
Great White Trillium. Trillium grandifloram
White, terminal on a pedicel erect or ascending, two and a half to four inches across.
Sepals three, lanceolate, spreading, persistent.
Petals three, obovate or oblanceolate, white, larger than the sepals, withering, often turning pink with age; margins slightly ruffled.
Six, borne around the pistil; filaments short; anthers linear, yellow, the cells opening down the margins.
One; ovary three-celled; with three slender styles, stigmatic down the inner side.
Globose berry, black, six-angled, three-celled, many-seeded.
Pollinated by flies, bees, and butterflies.
The Great White Trillium may be considered the favorite wild flower of northern Ohio. For many persons no other wild flower exists, and this appears so abundantly, grows so luxuriantly, lasts so long, and is so beautiful that it fully justifies the high esteem in which it is held. In open untouched woods its white lilies light up acre upon acre during the pleasant days of May.
Looking straight into the flower one sees a six-pointed star, three pointed green sepals, and three pointed white petals with slightly ruffled edges. The flower-stem wishes to bend a little.
Where the plant grows by the acre it matters little how many are picked, but every lover of Trilliums ought to know the conditions of Trillium life.
In the first place, each plant has one large, vertical, tuberous rootstock with a few fibrous roots. In this rootstock is stored the food that will sustain the next year's plant. This food is made by the leaves during their active life, which extends from early spring to midsummer. Now, the only connection that roots and rootstock possess with the working leaves is through the stem, which at the same time bears the flower. When the flower is picked the working leaves are also picked and all means of communication with the upper light and air are cut off. It is probable that a vigorous rootstock may send up another stem with working leaves, or the work halts imperfectly done. Every real lover of Trilliums picks sparingly. By midsummer the tops die and the plants are at rest for the year.
The tri in the name Trillium means three, and in its structure the plant faithfully follows the rule of three throughout. Even the green leaves are in a cluster of three on the summit of the stalk, and in their midst is the one large flower, with three sepals, three petals, six stamens, and three pistils united to form one. The old English name of Trillium was Wake-Robin, because in England the flower and the bird appear at the same time, but here our robin comes long before the Trillium rises in the sunny woodlands.
Abnormal forms of the flower are not rare, in which the calyx and sometimes the petals are changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number. Frequently the flower turns pink with age; rarely the flower comes pink from the bud.