Trillium ID

Submitted by Jeremy on

A friend has this in her garden and lost the label. Cute little bugger.

[Moderator note: re-uploaded photo, turned it upright, and sharpened a bit]


Submitted by Cockcroft on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 20:29

It's hard to tell from the small picture, but it looks like T. pusillum to me.

Submitted by RickR on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 23:20

That is my uneducated guess, too.

Submitted by Jeremy on Mon, 04/15/2013 - 05:47

Really! The two photos of pusillum in the galleries seem to show a much broader, green leaf, while the (admittedly poor) photo of the unknown has narrow, almost purplish leaves. Do you think those are just its early spring leaves? I'll try to get a better pic. And look up info on pusillum. Thanks!  J

Submitted by RickR on Mon, 04/15/2013 - 07:40

Well, as we've both said (especially me), we are not certain.

For myself, I seldom see the overall color (variegation not included) of any leaf as a distinguishing characteristic of any species. It can be so darn variable for so many reasons. But both the FNA and Fred Case say that T. pusillum has a  varying maroon tinge on the leaves.

The two pics in the gallery are of the same plant, not necessarily a representative of what is "normal".  I think if you google around, you find a lot more matching illustrations from reputable sources.  Fred also says in his book Trilliums:


      One of the most interesting trilliums, Trillium pusillum occurs as a series of widely disjunct populations across the Southeast.  It is absent from extensive areas of seemingly suitable habitat between populations where it would be expected to grow.  Much like species isolated in islands, these small disjunct populations interbreed among themselves and, with local mutations, become slightly different from one another.  As a result, botanists have named many varieties, even considering some local forms distinct species....

Submitted by Mark McD on Wed, 04/17/2013 - 16:44

Looks like a form of Trillium pusillum to me too.

One of the named varieties is T. pusillum alabamicum, a bit hard to see, but here are seedlings coming up (2nd year true leaves). Fresh seed from John Lonsdale was sown out in the garden, 20 seedlings so far, 1 seedling showed up the spring after sowing, so this seedling has a year advance on the others and is showing three leaves (bracts).  Wonder how many years before flowering, probably 3-4 yrs is my guess.

Submitted by Toole on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 01:57


I'm with Trillium pusillum var.....

Here's a shot of a plant flowering in the garden here early October.

Cheers Dave.

Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 14:23

Here is my verion of pusillum from 2012: