Where the brook wanders through a partially shaded, open and moist bit of woodland or thicket, there, in the springtime, you will find its bank and the immediate vicinity literally carpeted with the peculiarly mottled leaves of this beautiful Lily. Here and there the solitary, bright yellow, bell-shaped Lily-like flowers hang downward, pipe-like and nodding from long, slender, upright stems. They have a slight, delicate fragrance, and the half-dozen rich, brown-capped, yellow stamens stand out gracefully from an equal number of recurved petal-like sepals, in striking contrast and pleasing harmony. Inside, near the base, the divisions are sharply spotted with rich chocolate, and on the outside, they are usually faintly tinged with purple. The club-shaped pistil of the rather large perfect flower has its tips or stigmas united. The flowers close at night, and remain partly so on dull or rainy days. They always face toward the sun, and the outer divisions recurve to their fullest extent on brightest and warmest days. Everybody loves the Dog's Tooth Violet. Everybody knows it by this misleading name. Maybe the "Dog's Tooth" part originated from the shape of the flower parts, having something of the outline of the long, pointed, canine teeth of a dog. But it is not a Violet at all. It is a Lily. The shape and hang of the flowers indicate this. If you still doubt it, dig up the plant carefully, roots and all, and you will find ample proof in a deeply seated, plump, smooth, solid, egg-shaped corm, or bulb at the base of the stalk. The bulb is edible, and when roasted was greatly relished as a tit-bit by the Indians. The bulb and leaves are also used as a medicine for producing nausea. This bulb rests in the ground, some six or eight inches below the surface. The plant is complete with two, flat, fleshy, long, pointed oval, pale green leaves of unequal length. They are smooth and shiny, and are generally marbled with dull reddish or purplish markings. At first, one might think that the stained effect was produced by frost. This mottled effect of the leaves suggests the appearance of a snake's skin, and the pipe-like flower extending therefrom, is supposed to justify the name of Yellow Adder's Tongue. In some localities, where the earliest trout fishing is eagerly sought, this delightful spring beauty is popularly known as the Trout Lily, and its speckled leaves and blossoms are heralded as a signal that another speckled beauty, the brook trout, has appeared. The erect, ear-like appearance of the two leaves, together with their peculiar markings, caused John Burroughs to christen this plant the Fawn Lily. The flowers and leaves begin to wilt almost as soon as they are picked. The former revive nicely when placed in water, but the leaves are slower in recovering the shock. Soon after the flowering season, the leaves begin to fade, and by July scarcely a trace of them is to be seen. This species is found scattered in groups and colonies in abundance from Nova Scotia to Ontario and Minnesota, south to Florida, Missouri and Arkansas, during March, April, and May. Somewhat farther west it is replaced by a similar species with narrower and less mottled leaves, and white or pinkish-white flowers, that are not commonly found eastward. The pistil has three short, spreading tips, or stigmas.
YELLOW ADDER's TONGUE. Erythronium americanum.
It is known as the White Adder's Tongue, E. albidum. This species multiplies by underground offshoots from the base of the corm.