Posts Tagged ‘Trillium’

More flowers are blooming daily now and it’s getting a little harder to keep up with them. Here are just a few that I’ve seen.

Striped Squill

This striped sqill (Puschkinia scilloides, variety libanotica) was a big hit the last time I showed it here so I thought I’d give readers a little more information about where to find it. First, it is a spring flowering bulb that is planted in the fall, so it shouldn’t be ordered until mid to late summer.  The only place I have been able to find it for sale is Brent and Becky’s Bulbs’ spring / fall catalog, which you can view online by clicking here. Our friends in the U.K. can order them through Kevock Gardens by clicking here. If you order these bulbs you should remember to specify the variety, which is Libanotica. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to find a European supplier, but I’d bet that there is at least one out there.


Daffodils have just started blooming. These were the first ones I’ve seen.

 Magnolia Blossom

This is the first magnolia blossom I’ve seen. It was very fragrant, with a scent that reminded me of cabbage roses or peonies. The temperature might drop as low as 25 degrees tonight-I hope the petals don’t get nipped by frost.


In the forest bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is all ready to bloom. This plant gets its common name from the way its root “bleeds” red sap when it is cut. Native Americans used the colored sap for decorating baskets, as war paint, and even as an insect repellant. Each plant has a single leaf and flower growing on separate stems.

False Hellbore Side

False hellebore (Veratrum viride) has just come up over the last 3 or 4 days. Though it was used by Native Americans in various ways including medicinally, this plant is one of the most toxic n the New England forest. Unfortunately at this time of year it is also one of the most interesting, and big enough to make it hard to miss. Most people who eat it mistake it for ramps and eat the root, which is its most potent part.

 False Hellebore Top

I like the patterns made by the deep pleats in the leaves of false hellebore. Its small green flowers are interesting, but not very pretty. I went looking for them last year and never found them, so I’ll have to try again.

Trout Lily

Yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum ) isn’t blooming yet but I they are very close. Each pair of leaves sends up one stalk which bears a single yellow, nodding flower. This plant is also called dogtooth violet because of the underground bulbous root that looks like a tooth.  The name trout lily comes from the way the mottled leaves resemble a trout’s body.

 Spring Beauty Blossom

Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) grow among the trout lilies. Each flower consists of 5 white, pink striped petals, 2 green sepals, 5 pink tipped stamens, and a single tripartite pistil, which means that it splits into 3 parts. Two days ago I didn’t see a single spring beauty blossom and now the woods are full of them.


It seems early for trilliums here but these plants were growing out of a crack in a boulder, so maybe the sun-warmed stone gave them an extra boost.  These were very near a popular trail so I’m hoping nobody picks them before I get back to see the flowers.


These leaves might not look like much but they cause quite a stir each spring, even causing entire towns to close down to have festivals in this plant’s honor. These are ramps (Allium tricoccum,) also called ramson, wild leeks, wood leeks, wild garlic, and spring onions. Ramps are native and considered a vegetable. Note the difference between these plants and false hellebore, above. Ramps are said to have a strong, garlic like odor and a strong onion taste. I can only vouch for the odor-they do smell a bit like garlic, but more like onion to me. Native Americans called the plant chicagou and, since it grew there in abundance, the city of Chicago was named after it.

Ramp Bulbs

The white, swollen lower stem of ramps is what all the fuss is about. Ramps remind me of the fiddleheads from ferns that are available for just a short time in spring. Both plants are considered great delicacies and are served in upscale restaurants at astronomical prices.  I haven’t seen any fiddleheads yet and was surprised at the size of these plants.


This dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) blossom is barely bigger than an acorn cap so it won’t win any prizes, but it’s the first one I’ve seen this spring. It seems like they are late this year.

Willow Blossom

We may have as many as nine different willow species here in New Hampshire and they all bloom at different times. This, one of the earliest, just started blooming. I believe the photo is of the male flower of Salix discolor, known as pussy or glaucous willow, but it could also be Goat Willow (Salix caprea.) Willows are one of my favorite spring flowers.

Skunk Cabbage with Leaf

 I hope you can stand another look at skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus.) I wanted to show people in places it doesn’t grow what the leaf looked like so they could see how much they really do resemble cabbage leaves at this stage. The leaves are the stinkiest part of the plant, so it’s doubtful that anyone could ever eat one by mistake. I had a woman stop while I was taking this picture and tell me that she was glad that these plants weren’t growing outside her bedroom window.

Blossom by blossom the spring begins~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

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In my last post were a lot of big, showy flowers. In this post are just the opposite; the tiny natives on the forest floor that are often hard to see. We need to keep our eyes to the ground and watch where we step. The nodding flowers of the native sessile bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) hide under the leaves with their opening towards the ground. Since these plants were only 6 inches tall I couldn’t get under the straw colored, one inch long flower to look into it.So I propped one up in the fork of a twig. Sessile bellwort flowers have three sepals and three petals, but it takes a botanist to tell them apart. They also have six stamens, which can be seen crowded into the flower opening. The word sessile relates to how the long, undulating, stalkless leaves look like they are sitting on the stem but don’t completely surround it. I found a colony of these growing in a moist forest where trillium, anemone, foamflower and meadow rue also grew. A common name of this plant is wild oats. I keep finding large drifts of flowers. Here bluets (Houstonia caerulea) carpet part of a field. Gardeners could learn a lot by paying attention to nature-flowers always look much more natural when they are planted in drifts.I saw both the bluest and whitest bluets I’ve ever seen growing less than five feet apart. I wish I knew what caused such color variations. A book by Maggie Nelson called Bluets begins “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” When you look at these flowers it’s easy to understand how she could write such a thing.Though I can’t say what causes the color variations in bluets, I read recently that the color variation in spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) is caused in part by the sun. In the study the lighter colored flowers were those that received the most sunlight. This is the darkest one I’ve seen, but it wasn’t in deep shade.This photo hasn’t been edited in any way-that’s exactly what the flower looked like, and it was a beauty. After it flowers the entire plant disappears until the following spring after having made a brief, 2 to 3 week appearance. Growing right alongside the spring beauties were yellow trout lilies (Erythronium americanum.) I’ve watched this large colony of plants for weeks, waiting for them to bloom. The “trout” part of the name comes from the slightly out of focus speckled leaves. Someone once thought they resembled the fish. The flower has 3 petals and 3 sepals which in full, warm sun, curve backwards to expose the long stamens and anthers. Petals and sepals are known as tepals on plants like these whose sepals and petals are indistinguishable. Trout lilies take from 4 to 7 years to bloom from seed. Before a trout lily’s tepals curl completely you can glimpse the darker bronze or maroon color on their outside surfaces. Each mature plant has two leaves and a single flower which is pollinated by ants and closes each night. This plant is also called the dogtooth violet because its white root is said to resemble a dog’s tooth. An old folk tale says that if a child swallowed one of its milk teeth you had to make him eat a dog violet petal, or his adult tooth would be long, like a dog’s tooth. The plant isn’t related to violets but it is easy to see why it is in the lily family. A spring beauty sat quietly watching nearby while I snapped pictures of the trout lily. The flower of the small flowered crowfoot (Ranunculus abortivus) was so small that I wasn’t sure if I could even get a picture of it. It is a member of the buttercup family and is also called kidney leaved buttercup, named for the round leaves at the base of the stem. Leaf shape changes on this plant so that the leaves further up the stem look nothing like those at the base. The flower has five petals, five sepals that usually bend downward, and many stamens surrounding a berry like center. This is all packed into a flower that is smaller than a pencil eraser. This unusual native, also called the kidney leaf buttercup, likes wet places and is considered poisonous. Goldthread (Coptis trifolia) is another tiny flower that you have to sprawl on the ground to get a picture of. What look like white petals on this flower are actually sepals; the petals are the club-like tiny yellow balls at the end of short stalks. The inset in the upper right shows the bright yellow root that gives the plant its name. The shiny, 3 lobed leaves make this one easy to spot. Native Americans chewed the roots of goldthread to treat canker sores, which is why the plant is also called canker root. The natives shared the plant with the English settlers and it became such a popular medicine that by 1785 shakers were paying 37 cents per pound for it dried, which meant people dug up all they could find. After a couple of centuries the plant has recovered enough to be relatively common once again. I played peek-a-boo with this wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia) for over a week, visiting each day to see if the flower would be open. All I saw were pink buds like that on the right. Wood anemones refuse to open up if the temperature and light aren’t to their liking, and as soon as the sun moves enough to give them the signal they begin to retreat back into their buds.  I kept missing the open flowers until one day when I found one in the act of closing, but still open enough to get a glimpse of the hidden wonders. This is another native wildflower that doesn’t have petals but has 4 to 9 sepals that look like petals. These plants grew in very damp soil and were about 3 inches tall, with tiny flowers. This plant is considered poisonous. The Chinese call it the “Flower of Death,” and in some European countries it is thought to be a bad omen, though nobody seems to remember why. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen as many wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) plants as I have this spring. They must prefer mild winters. Later on if the bees do their job, each of these flowers will become a small but delicious strawberry. In the garden strawberries easily reproduce vegetatively by runners (stolons,) but the fruit was so plentiful in the wild that colonials in North America didn’t bother cultivating them until the early 1800s. The first documented botanical illustration of a strawberry plant appeared in 1454. After taking pictures of such very small flowers this red (or purple) flowered trillium seemed like a giant. It was only five inches tall but stood on a bit of a rise, so at least I was able to get my chin off the ground to photograph it. Those who read the last post will remember that this is a real stinker whose common name is stinking Benjamin. This trillium likes moist soil and all the sun it can get. Though it might seem that a flower like this one would be easy to see, that isn’t always the case. I’ve walked right by them many times and have even stepped on one or two over the years, unfortunately. Here in New Hampshire the trilliums I’ve seen grow singly or in groups of 3 to 5, but under the right conditions they can form huge colonies. If you would like to see an excellent example of that take a look at the photo of white trilliums by Jerry over at his quietsolopursuits blog. It’s an amazing sight to behold.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these tiny forest dwellers and hope you will find some too. Thanks for coming by.

Perchance we may meet on woodland trails where drifts of trilliums and singing robins still greet the spring.” ~Don Jacobs


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