more on trilliums
Tue, 30 May 2006 21:07:11 PDT
The many southeastern USA Trillium continue to bloom well and provide lots of 
interest here.  For information on the species I mention here, there is no 
better reference than the on-line eFlora; the Flora of North America, authored 
by none other than Trillium expert Fred Case.  The keys, descriptions, and 
level of detail in the text is all very good.…

The two forms of Trillium reliquum I grow came from Georgia.  It has 
gorgeous, intensely mottled foliage.  Similar to T. decumbens, the foliage sits close 
to the ground, but unlike that nearly stemless species, T. reliquum has a stem 
of about 1" to 1-1/2" tall, among other differences.  The upright flowers are 
a deep maroon red, the 3 flat-lying sepals similarly colored, if not a little 
paler.  The flowers are said to smell putrid, but in my specimens they smell 
like clay, or like "stale yeasty bread"... mildly unpleasant but certainly not 
putrid.  This is a stunning Trillium.…
(just to the upper left, can be seen the drying foliage of T. nivale, with a 
seed capsule)

Trillium stamineum, the twisted trillium, is named for the twisted dark 
maroon petals, an unmistakable characteristic.  Subtle leaf mottling, and flowering 
stems of just 3"-8" tall.  Said to be unscented, but I detect a faint, 
peculiar scent to the flowers.  My plants came from Alabama.…

Trillium lancifolium is a most distinctive small species, one that I like 
very much.  My plants came from Tennessee, and grow to 6"-12" in flower.  The 
foliage faces downwards giving the plant a narrow dog's-ear appearance, showing 
off the erect blooms with very narrow red petals that tend to incurve, overlap, 
and twist slightly.  The incurved stamens are dark maroon.  There is no 
detectable floral scent.  In the first photo link below, the flowers are striking 
when backlit with late afternoon sun, with the equally bright flowers on 
stemless T. decumbens in the background.……

Trillium rugelii is fantastic.  Known as the Southern Nodding Trillium, it is 
distinct and far superior to the familar nodding Trillium (T. cernuum) of 
eastern USA and Canada.  My plant is robust, growing 15-18" tall, with very large 
reflexed nodding flowers like a giant dodecatheon. The most striking aspect 
of this species is the oversized, prominent ovary of a bright red-purple color, 
flanked by bluish-purple anthers.  The strongly recurved flowers are nearly 
4" across if stretched out, emitting a mild fruity aroma.  The flowers last a 
very long time.  The foliage is straight green and prominently veined.………

Trillium catesbaei, the "bashful trillium".  I have several dozen of these 
planted out, and it wins a place in my heart for several reasons.  This is a 
delicate species, up to a foot tall, with refined smallish undulate foliage and 
delightful nodding blooms that display great diversity in flower color and 
form.  Because the foliage is not very large as in some species, the flowers can 
clearly be seen, even though they are nodding below the foliage.  Flower color 
ranges from pure white, many shades of pink, to vibrant cherry colors, with 
bold yellow anthers. A few specimens have white flowers strongly mottled and 
streaked with pink.  The petals are elegantly undulate along the margins, and are 
moderately to strongly recurved.  The sepals are typically a gray-green color 
that beautifully frames the flowers, or sometimes reddish to purplish color.………………

A nursery friend of mine purchased a number of plants of the common Trillium 
erectum, and what she got instead (in her favor) was was Trillium vaseyi, a 
superior southeastern species sometimes called the Sweet Trillium for the sweet 
scent of the blooms.  Averaging about 18" tall, the striking blooms are an 
intense maroon red color, the petals heavily veined and netted.  What's most 
striking about this species, is how the petals tightly recurve, folding backwards 
over the green sepals, forming a perfectly triangular shaped bloom.  The large 
anthers eventually turn white, contrasting beautifully with the intense dark 
flower color, although in my two photos, I took the photos before the the 
anthers matured to white.  The flowers are VERY large and bold, compared to the 
rather squinty, inferior flowers of most Trillium erectum forms one encounters.……

Lastly, is Trillium grandiflorum 'Multiplex'.  I'm not often a fan of double 
flowers, but this is without doubt one of the most exquisitely formed flowers 
among double-flowered plants.  The elegant ruffled flowers are pristine white, 
lasting for nearly a month, eventually fading to pink.  I know of one nursery 
(Asiatica) that sells a single plant for $78 each (ouch!).  In a couple 
years, my plant increased to 4 blooming stalks, and two youngsters.………

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