Purple Trillium. Trillium erectum L.

Figure 90.—Purple trillium (Trillium erectum)

Other Common Names

Bethroot, trillium, red trillium, purple trillium, ill-scented trillium, birthroot, birthwort, bathwort, bathflower, red wake-robin, purple wake-robin, ill-scented wake-robin, red-benjamin, bumblebee root, daffy-downdilly, dishcloth, Indian balm, Indian shamrock, nosebleed, squawflower, squawroot, wood lily, truelove. Many of these names are applied also to other species of trillium.

Habitat And Range

This is a native plant growing in rich soil in damp, shady woods from Canada south to Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri.


Purple trillium is a low-growing plant from 8 to 16 inches in height, with a rather stout stem having three leaves arranged in a circle near the top. These are from 3 to 7 inches in length and of about the same width and are practically stemless. The flower, which appears from April to June, is borne singly at the end of the stem on a slender stalk. Its parts are arranged in threes which feature serves to identify the plant. The three petals, which are 1 1/4 inches long and one-half inch wide, are dark purple pink, greenish, or white. The flower has an unpleasant odor. It is followed by a reddish berry.

Part Used

The root, collected toward the close of summer.