Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trillium Update

I found these three Large Flowered Trilliums just where I’ve seen them growing for years.  That might not seem unusual, but ten days ago there was no sign of their emergence, despite the fact that others of their species were already flowering.  During that ten day time span, these plants went from nothing to showing an unfurling flower bud.  I’ve never seen such a prolonged period of emergence displayed by this population of trilliums.  In most years, all of the plants open their blooms at roughly the same time.  This staggered pattern of blooming makes it more difficult to achieve my goal of producing viable trillium seed from this small population of plants.

The plant that was just unfurling its bloom ten days ago has finally produced a pollen producing flower.  This is the second of what appears will only be three blooming plants this year.

With two flowers to work with, I set about helping with the transfer of pollen between plants.  If I’m working with several plants, I’ll use a pollination brush to gather and transfer pollen.  Since there were only two plants in this case, I chose to remove an entire pollen covered anther and apply it directly to the receiving stigma.  No chance of missing that way.

Digital cameras make it easy to document the location of plants of interest.  This population of trilliums is one that I’ve been monitoring for several years and it’s important to know exactly where the plants are so you can track losses or additions to the population.  After taking close up shots of a plant, I’ll take a mid range shot showing the plant’s location in respect to an identifiable landmark.  In this case, it’s clear that the plant is beside the double trunked tree with exposed roots.

Next I’ll take a wider shot showing the plant and landmark as it’s situated on the landscape.  By lining myself up with the various objects in the photo, I can come back to this point and reestablish the exact point from which I took the shot.  From there I can locate the site of the plant.

The lone trillium living on the gravel bar near the creek has survived.  It had to maneuver around a bit of flood debris, but it is still alive. I’ve seen this plant bloom a couple of times, but most years it seems to be recovering from the hazards of life on a floodplain.  The Blue Jay Barrens population of Large Flowering Trillium seems to be slowly increasing.  Hopefully, this trend will continue.


  1. I appreciate the passion you have for plants, and how you go about photographing them so you will know how to pollinate, watch out for certain plants, etc. It is certainly a delightful education for me. Wish I had a green thumb...