A Trillium Feast

     This week, and maybe next, is the height of trillium season in our part of Virginia.  The blooming of these delicate, low-to-the-ground, white flowers is not to be missed.  So my friends Kathy, Renee, and I arranged to hike together a few days ago at Virginia’s Thompson Wildlife Management Area, a spot known for its profusion of trillium.

     It was practically a perfect day.  As we set out along the wooded trail, all was delightful.   The temperature was perfect, and the green, both on the ground and above in the trees, shone in the sunlight.  Worrier that I am, it does my heart good to see just how exuberant, how persistent, how varied life is, in spite of the terrible things humanity is doing to the planet.  The birds, heard but not seen, twittered and chirped from their hidden perches.  Only once did we get to watch one, a scarlet tanager so gleaming red, a male  cardinal would pale in comparison.  

     Springtime blooms were everywhere.  Purple violets, and some yellow ones too, dotted the forest floor on either side of the trail, and dainty white flowers on the slightest of stems showed strength in their great numbers (Kathy later learned they are rue anemone).  And here and there, almost hidden by the surrounding green, was a jack-in-the-pulpit.  Unassuming on the outside, but boldly striped on the inside with white and marroon, this intricate plant is among my favorites.      

     The trees too were lovely to behold on this fresh, spring day.  Here and there a slender dogwood bloomed sweetly.  And the junior-sized  leaves of maples, oaks, and hickories were still folded downward, not yet mature enough to lift and open to the sun’s nourishing rays.   

     And then there was the trillium!  We hadn’t walked far before we spotted our first one, a fairly large, three petaled flower growing out of three largish leaves close to the ground.  Now on the lookout, we saw more and more of them.  They dotted both sides of the trail, and they could be spotted, singly, in little clusters of three or four, and in very large patches deeper into the understory.  Here and there was a trillium colored lightly pink.  A few of the little trillium groupings were all pink.  And we spied one trillium, quite a ways off the trail, that was a deep pink, truly magenta. 

     Trillium has an interesting way of reproducing.  When the plant matures, ants are attracted to elaisomes, a fleshy substance attached to the seeds.  The ants carry the seeds to their nest, eat the elaisomes from around the seeds, and put the seeds in the ‘garbage,’ where they germinate.  Trillium is a fragile flower;  picking one seriously injures the plant by preventing the leaf-like bracts from producing food for the next year.  A plant take years to recover. 

     I am very happy to have had this wonderful day in the forest with my friends and so much beauty at every turn.–April Moore  


5 Responses to “A Trillium Feast”

  1. Elizabeth H. Cottrell Says:

    Serendipity that you would write about this today — Johnny and I were just wondering when they were in bloom.

  2. Nancy Kelly Says:

    This posting brings back childhood memories of an upstate New York hillside dotted with trillium, hepatica, dog-tooth violets and emitting the nourishing smell of leaf mold. Thanks!

  3. Tanya Bohlke Says:

    Lovely! I’ve just planted trillium in my native garden and am eagerly waiting for them to bloom!

  4. gila Says:

    I also thought of NYS as I read, also adding the hepatica, which I have not seen in Maryland. You evoked a wonderful set of images and memories! Thanks.

  5. Diane Says:

    I was just introuduced to trilliums–lovely wild blooming plants.

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