by Joshua Heston

In spring, the Trillium’s deep-maroon flower perches upon a single stalk of this otherwise unassuming forest plant. The leaves are speckled or mottled green (Plate 3). The plant shares similar traits to the larger, more well-known mayapple. Both prefer rich, moist black soil in the understory of the forest. Both grow in colonies — though Trillium tend to be a bit scattered. Both bloom at nearly the same time. The Trillium sp. also includes Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum), Large White Trillium (Trillium grandliflorum) and Stinking Benjamin (Trillium erectum). Only Trillium sessile — the most common in the Ozarks — is pictured on this page.

May 5, 2009

Toadshade Wake Robin (Trillium sessile)

Size: 4-12 inches tall; flower 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long. What to look for: flowers maroon to brownish, with 3 upright petals, borne in center of whorl of 3 leaves atop erect stem; leaves oval. Habitat: rich woods. In bloom: April and May.

— page 488, Wernett, Susan J., et al. North American Wildlife. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1986.

From The Herbal Compendium:

Purple Trillium. Trillium erectum (T. purpureum)

Bath flower, Bathroot.

Root: Astringent. Tonic.

An astringent and, when boiled in milk, of eminent benefit in cases of diarrhea. The root, made into a poultice, is very useful in stings of insects. The leaves boiled in lard are a good external application for skin affections.

— page 182, Shaker Medicinal Herbs: A Compendium of History, Lore and Uses by Amy Bess Miller

A word of safety: folk remedies on StateoftheOzarks are published for informational purposes only. These remedies are never intended to cure, treat or mitigate any disease or disease condition. For questions about disease or disease conditions, consult a qualified healthcare professional.

Plate 1.


Plate 2.

Trillium leaf detail

Plate 3.

Trillium in sunshine

Plate 4.

All photo credits: J. Heston. SOTO © Archive 05/05/09

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