Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Flowers: Trilliums

This picture was taken on May 8th in a woodlot a couple of kilometers from our home. Our area of the city is home to masses of the beautiful White Trillium, trillium grandiflorum, which is the floral emblem of Ontario. We walked on the Bruce Trail near Hamilton Ontario last weekend and did not see a single trillium, even though many other wildflowers thrived in the Carolinian forest of the Niagara Escarpment. Trilliums grow in rich, moist but well-drained woods at low to mid elevations. These plants are difficult to transplant and are best left in the woods. I have one in my yard taken from Grandma's garden almost 20 years ago. It has never spread, but each spring I am treated to one lovely bloom.

There are other types of trilliums including the Red Trillium and Painted Trillium. I have yet to find a Painted Trillium, but when I was looking for one, I came across a few with varigated green petals. There are many colour variations in trillium petals reportedly caused by infections from micro-organisms. For example, Mycoplasma infects populations of Trillium grandiflorum. These viruses or bacteria cause various green mutations in the petals. (source)
Oh well, I thought I had found an exciting new trillium but found an infected one instead. It was lovely to look at in any case!
As the flowers get older, they turn to a delicate pink and the entire plant disappears into the ground after the flowering period is over.

Here is a little flowery bonus...I found these Jack in the Pulpits near the Trilliums. The recent warm weather has caused them to appear rapidly. We are fortunate to have a few protected woods in the city where the wildflowers can grow. I was sad to see that the city has started to "landscape" the old landfill site where I did my mini-bioblitz in April. They plan to put in two soccer fields, a parking lot and tubing park. Where will the birds and flowers go?
Here is a poem by Mary Oliver that says it better than I...

What Was Once the Largest Shopping Center in Northern Ohio Was Built Where There Had Been a Pond I Used to Visit Every Summer Afternoon

by Mary Oliver

Loving the earth, seeing what has been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.

Where will the trilliums go, and the coltsfoot?
Where will the pond lilies go to continue living
their simple, penniless lives, lifting
their faces of gold?

Impossible to believe we need so much
as the world wants us to buy.
I have more clothes, lamps, dishes, paper clips
than I could possibly use before I die.

Oh, I would like to live in an empty house,
with vines for walls, and a carpet of grass.
No planks, no plastic, no fiberglass.

And I suppose sometime I will.
Old and cold I will lie apart
from all this buying and selling, with only
the beautiful earth in my heart.

Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004)


  1. No one should EVER cover a pond with asphalt! I am seeing heavily wooded areas being cleared out for housing subdivisions and it makes me sort of sick.

    Thanks for the information about Trilliums. Your photos are so good.

  2. What a beautiful carpet of trillium!! That Mary Oliver poem really hits home with me too. I'm going to have to buy one of her books- any suggestions?

  3. Your Trillium picture is absolutely beautiful. It brought back childhood memories of my walks with Grandad T. We loved finding Trilliums and Jack-in-the-Pulpits

  4. _I get totally bummed out every time I hear about a new chunk of land being decimated for a building project.-Beautiful photo.

  5. Ruth--the Mary Oliver poem perfectlyh captures the insanity we have in N. America of gobbling up precious precious land to build yet another obscene shopping mall. Why can't we all band together and say NO MORE malls; more trilliums.

  6. Mary- Our wood lands here are almost gone and we are paying a big price for changing our environment so drastically.

    Lynne- I took a number of her poetry books out of the library and enjoyed every one. There are a couple of collections that include the contents of several smaller volumes. Perhaps you could start with one of them.

    OmaLois- The woods were spectacular. Grandad would have painted it,-I just know how to push the shutter.

    Larry- Thanks. There are too many empty factories and strip malls around. Once the concrete is poured, it is very difficult to get back to a natural state again, even when we desert it.

    KGMom- I thought the poem was perfect too. We gather so many possessions...and for what reason??

  7. Beautiful trillium.. I could just stand there forever breathing in the beauty of it, and it's almost in your back yard? Love the poem.

  8. Last year the Spokane city dummies (I mean major and his cronies) votes to rip out every one of the trees on Bernard St (a historic street with ancient beautiful trees.) They were going to widen the road and then the decided not to. Grrr. LEave us our natural sacred places...

    I adore trilliums.

  9. I needed that picture of trillium. Truly, it filled me with happy memories.

    The Mary Oliver poem took my breath away. I live in northern Ohio. I've watched woodlands and frogs and Spring song being bull-dozed.

    I'd somehow missed this poem - this sob.

  10. Jayne- I could have stayed in the bush the entire afternoon. We walk our dog here regularly.

    Jaspenelle- It seems action comes before thought in some minds. It will take a lifetime to replace those trees.

    Cathy- Glad to bring back happy memories. I didn't realize you live in the area Mary Oliver was writing about. How poignant!

  11. I couldn't find the comment button on your latest post on lilacs - perhaps my favorite flower. In northern Ohio the bloom is faded so it's so nice to reflect once again on the fragrance of lilacs. I can imagine Becka's longing for them.