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Trout Lily

Erythronium americanum

Trout lily flowers are yellow on the inside and bronze-colored on the outside. (jclucier/Flickr)
Trout lily flowers are yellow on the inside and bronze-colored on the outside. (jclucier/Flickr)

Trout lily is a native perennial plant with nodding yellow flowers that bloom in early spring.

Appearance:

The trout lily has a single, nodding flower at the top of a short stalk. Flowers are yellow on the inside and bronze-colored on the outside, with six petals that curve upward away from six brown stamens. The flowers bloom in March to May. Mottled brown and green leaves grow at the base of the plant. Young plants have only one leaf, while mature adult plants have two leaves. Trout lilies grow 6 to 8 inches tall.

Habitat:

This plant is found in moist, rich areas such as meadows, clearings and deciduous woods. It grows in partial shade.

Range:

Grows throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

The trout lily sprouts and flowers in early spring, before new tree leaves grow and block out the sun. Plants grow from a white bulb that has a tooth-like shape
New plants usually grow when underground rhizomes spread and form colonies. Mature plants also spread via seeds. Ants scatter the seeds, eating part of the seed and leaving the rest to germinate.

Other Facts:

  • Also known as dogtooth violet or adder’s tongue
  • The name “trout lily” comes from the plant’s mottled leaves, which look like the markings on brook trout
  • Some trout lily colonies are 200-300 years old
  • Trout lily leaves and bulbs were once eaten for medicinal purposes as a contraceptive

Sources and Additional Information:




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