Trillium - A Lovely Spring Flower


is a genus that has a variety of species across North America. The "tri" Latin prefix, meaning three, is used because the parts of the flowers occur in threes or multiples of threes: three leaves, three petals, three sepals, three stigmas, and six stamens.

A common trillium of southwest Virginia and northwest North Carolina is

Trillium erectum

, commonly referred to as Wake Robin. The researcher can become quickly confused by this lovely plant. Since it occurs in red/maroon, white, cream, pink, and mottled, the question is whether these are subspecies or whether these are just different colors of Trillium erectum. At this time there is no definitive answer.

Let's look at some of the Trillium erectum blossoms that occur close to each other. Red/maroon and cream are the most common in this area.

When red and cream occur in an area, it is not unusual to see pink or mottled.

The white form seems not to occur in the same area as the red and cream.

                 The Yellow Trillium,

Trillium luteum


 grows in such large numbers in some slopes of the eastern

Smoky Mountains, that its growth habit is reminiscent of a weed.

Trillium sessile

, commonly called Sessile Trillium, is like the Yellow Trillium in that it does not grow in the Blue Ridge Discovery Center area. The one pictured to the right was growing in southeastern West Virginia.

Trillium luteum


Trillium sessile

belong to the "sessile" category. In this case "sessile" means that the flower has no stem.

Nodding Trillium,

Trillium cernuum


 is white. As it ages, the ovary and anthers

become pink and purplish,  making it

even more lovely at a distance.

Painted Trillium,

Trillium undulatum


grows over a large area. This is fortunate

because it is one of the most beautiful of

the trilliums.

You might still find some trilliums at

the higher elevations of North Carolina

and Virginia. Better yet, plan to see

them in the spring of 2014.