Friday, April 30, 2010

Large-flowered Trillium

Large-flowered Trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, is a plant that is often seen as a mass of plants carpeting the woodland floor. The current Blue Jay Barrens population now consists of eight plants; 1 blooming, 1 with a developing flower bud and 6 non-flowering. This may appear to be a dismally small population, but it’s twice the number of plants I counted ten years ago. At this rate, there ought to be a carpet of blooms in about 60 years.

The trilliums grow on one of the steep slopes I discussed before. The steepness protected the slopes from many abusive activities and now discourages browsing deer from feeding here.

This is one of the newer members of the group. Large-flowered Trilliums have to grow for several years before flowering, so it takes a long time to build up a population. It’s also a plant that is slow to spread to new areas, because it depends on ants to scatter the seeds. A juicy morsel is attached to the seed that causes the ants to carry the seed back to the colony. After the ants finish their meal, the seed is carried out and discarded. This practice of ants dispersing seeds is fairly common among woodland flowers.

Fifteen years ago, I was attracted to this spot by a single white bloom from a trillium growing here. This hillside is near a frequently walked trail and the fact that I had never seen the bloom before makes me think that this was a young plant with its first flower. That single plant has now grown to be this group of three. Only one will be blooming this year. If the flower can produce mature pollen before the other bloom fades, I’ll bring out my pollination brush and make sure the plants share their pollen load. I’m trying to do all I can to ensure a good crop of seeds.

This plant should soon be old enough to start blooming. In another couple of years, I should begin seeing five or six blooms each spring. That won’t quite make a carpet, but I’m sure my imagination can fill in the gaps.

No comments:

Post a Comment