Sprint Wildflowers: Trillium

Trillium, Trillium Grandiflorum

Trillium Drawing by Patti Cauldwell
Trillium Drawing by Patti Cauldwell

We are beginning to see a collage of blooms in the Spring woods. The yellow Trout Lily is bending her head, the Bellwort is dancing and the white showy blossoms of the Trillium take command. The flower, three white petals and three stamens atop a single stalk with a whorl of three leaves was given it's name from the Latin, trilix, referring to the sets of three. The plant stands about 12” tall and is found in shade and sunlit areas.

It takes a long time for the


plant to reach maturity, approximately six years from seed to flower. Picking the flower seriously injures the plant and unfortunately it is a favorite food of the white-tailed deer. In three states, Minnesota, Michigan and New York it is illegal to pick or transplant as it is becoming rare in some areas.

The plant grows from a rhizome root and grows singly and in colonies. It likes a slightly acidic soil and has a preference for the Maple and Beech forest.


Interesting facts about the Trillium:

- Trillium is a member of the Liliaceae family.

- The seeds are mostly spread by ants, who take the fruit to their underground homes, eat the fruit and leave the seed behind.

- The flowers turn pink as they mature.

- Although it takes many years for the plant to mature, the plant can live for seventy years.


A beautiful drive on Washington Island to see Trilliums is on the east side of Washington Harbor, the northern end of Airport Road that turns into Washington Harbor Road.

Credits: drawing: Patti Cauldwell, photos: Courtney Cauldwell Sources:



UW-Stevens Point