The scent of Trillium
Mon, 08 May 2006 20:35:39 PDT
Several years back, I received some Trillium treasures from John Lonsdale, 
all of which have prospered on grown on beautifully.  They did set seed last 
year, which I scratched in around the parent plants, among the pine bark mulch, 
and this year received excellent germination with lots of seedlings.

I'm a flower sniffer.  It's always surprising to me when I get together with 
gardeners and comment on the scent of a particular plant, that the gardener 
has never thought about sniffing the flowers and never realized it was fragrant. 
 I was sniffing my trilliums this past weekend, a gloriously beautiful spring 
weekend to be sure.

I have two forms of Trillium decumbens, one from Alabama, the other from 
Georgia.  Below is a link to a photo of these two... the brighter red Alabama 
collection on the left, the darker red collection from Georgia on the right.  The 
Alabama stock has no scent that I can detect, whereas the Georgia stock smells 
like pepper!  Cool.  This species has leaves right at ground level, with 
fantastic mottling on the foliage.…

Close by is T. decipiens.  Equally beautiful foliage with intense mottling, 
the stems reach about 7-8".  I provide two photos, showing two dark red forms, 
each with different mottling, and a coppery-olive flowered form with lighter 
mottling.  The red forms have no detectable scent when I sniffed (although, 
they had just begun to open), whereas the coppery-olive flowered form had a 
strong yet hard to pinpoint aroma... sort of sweet yet at the same time 
turpentine-like. Peculiar and intriguing.……

The third Triilium species is T. recurvatum.  It's rather tall and sturdy, 
with distinctively incurved flowers forming a small ball-shaped flower.  The 
flowers are bright to dark red, looking particularly fetching when afternoon 
sunlight shines through the blooms, making them appear luminescent red.  The 
foliage is lightly mottled.  The very long-lasting flowers carry a light pleasantly 
sweet fragrance.  The photo shows both this species and T. decipiens for 

All three species are growing at the base of Magnolia 'Forrest's Pink'.

Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States "New England" USDA Zone 5
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