Thursday, April 8, 2010

White Trout Lily

At Blue Jay Barrens, Trout Lilies are the earliest and most conspicuous of the spring woodland flowers. Extremely dry soils, past land abuses and ravenous deer and turkey have all combined to make the spring floral display to be rather under whelming.

The speckled pattern of the leaves makes a rather effective camouflage against the sun dappled woodland floor.

The name Trout Lily is supposed to describe the way the pattern on the leaves resembles the spotted side of a trout. I find that a lot of the leaves look to me as though there is a rip in the fabric of space and time that gives a view of some confused interdimensional vortex. If you stare at the photo, you can see that a leaf shape has been neatly cut from the center and we are looking straight into the Outer Limits.

These are the White Trout Lily, Erythronium albidum. It takes a young Trout Lily many years to mature enough to produce flowers. Populations expand vegetatively and the majority of the plants are single leaved, non-flowering individuals.

One reason I like this plant so much is its association with ants. The Trout Lily seed is attached to a nutritious little fleshy bit that is sought after by ants. The ants carry off the seeds, eat the good part and discard the seed. Through this method, seeds can be spread over quite a large area.


  1. When Matty and I when up to Caesar's Creek to draw last Friday, we found lots of these plants. I wondered what they were. They weren't blooming yet, but the "confused interdimensional vortex" leaves caught our attention!

  2. Oh my!! Trout lily's--when I was a kid, well I guess I still am in some ways --We called them dog toothed violet's I guess because our parents did!! I have only seen a few in this part of the state,but where I grew up in Northern Me. they grew like a sea of yellow in the ditches along side the dirt roads every spring!! I did learn when I was older that they where Trout Lilies!!