Sunday, April 8, 2012

Red trilliums

Most of the trilliums near Kalamazoo are the familiar white trillium, Trillium grandiflorum. Two other types of trilliums can be found in extreme southwest Michigan, both have red flowers.

Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum), shown above, is rare in Michigan and is legally protected. Apparently it is much more common in Illinois and Indiana.

Toad Trillium (Trillium sessile), shown below, is also listed as a threatened species in Michigan. It is also more common in Illinois and Indiana.

Years ago, I'd seen a red trillium at Fernwood but I figured it had been imported from somewhere. My visit this week to the nearby Trillium Ravine corrected my impression. These are native Michigan wildflowers, just uncommon ones.

I had a hard time telling the two trilliums apart since the individual variations between plants (differences in leaf color-- mottling-- and fullness of bloom) were more obvious than the differences between the species. A little online research showed that Prairie Trillium leaves have stalks, giving them a little separation from the flower, while the Toad Trillium's leaves appear to be connected at the base of the flower. The other identifying characteristic involves the sepals-- three petal-like structures beneath the three true petals. Prairie Trillium sepals point downward, while Toad Trillium sepals are horizontal.

No comments: