Trillium is a genus of flowering plants in family Melanthisceae, comprising of 40-50 species. It is native to temperate regions of North America and Asia. Trillium has common names such as Trillium, Wake Robin, Tri Flower, and Birthroot. The genus name was given by Carl Linnaeus ( 1707-1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and a zoologist.
Trillium is a rhizomatous perennial and the plant has distinctive whorls of three broad leaves, from which grows a flower consisting of three green sepals and three petals. They are ideal for woodland gardens or shady corners of borders that do not dry out.
Picking Trillium for their flower can seriously injure the plant. The three leaves below the flower are the plant's only ability to produce food stores, and a picked Trillium can takes many years to recover.
Trillium is one of the many plants which seeds are spread by ants and mice. Trillium seeds have a fleshy part called elaiosome (fleshy structure that attached to the seed) that attracts ants. The elaiosome is rich in lipids and proteins. The ants take the seed back to their nest and feed the elaiosome to their larvae. After the larvae have consumed the elaiosome, the ants dispose the seed to their waste disposal area, which is rich in nutrients from the ant frass and dead bodies. The waste disposal area is where the seeds germinate. This type of seed dispersal is called myrmecochory from the Greek 'ant' (myrmex) and 'dispersal (kore).
Trillium sessile (Toadshade) is a clump-forming perennial, spring wildflower. It is native to the central part of the eastern United States. It can grows to 30 x 20 cm. Its leaves are large, irregularly patterned with pale green, grey and white. In late spring it produced a dark red, stemless, foul-smelling flower above the three leaves.
In spring, Trillium luteum (yellow Wake Robin) bears lemon-scented, yellow or bronze flowers above the mid-green leaves, which are marbled with light green.
Trillium grandiforum ( white trillium or white wake-robin) is native to eastern North America. The plant is most common in rich deciduous and mixed upland forests. It bears pure white flowers in spring and summer, above a whorl of three dark leaves.
Trillium undulatum ( Painted trillium) is a species of wildflower of the genus Trillium found from the Great Smokey Mountains to Ontario and east to Nova Scotia. It needs acidic, humus-rich soils and tends to be found in the shade of acid-loving trees such as eastern white pine, red maple, red spruce and balsam fir. This species's foliage has found to be contained with high levels of calcium, magnesium and especially potassium. It has unusual funnel-shaped flowers, with three white or pink petals , surrounded with three green, redoedged sepals. The petals have dark red marks at the base.
Trillium species are ideal for woodland gardens or shady corners of border that do not dry out. Trillium grows well in shade, in fertile, moisture-retentive but well drained soil. Propagation is by seed or division of rhizomes in autumn or early spring. Slugs and snails are pests that like to attack the plants.