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It always seems like a rare blessing to come upon a patch of blooming trilliums Trillium chloropetalum during a winter walk in the woods. To me it is even more surprising to come upon this strange three petaled flower in places where you wouldn’t expect them. I have seen them in coastal scrub and in a dense old stand of maritime chaparral. I suppose this could be due to the fact that our summer fog can be an analog for shade in some coastal areas.
As implied by the name the plant presents in threes. Leaves of three like an over-grown pointy leafed clover perfectly bracket the three green sepals which in turn cup three large lovely petals. The flower petals can be light green to pink to maroon. Rhizomes develop slowly from an expanding clump. So when you see a large clump of these plants you know that you are looking at something old and precious. Sadly the uninformed can easily destroy a patch by letting plant lust get in the way of good conservation sense. If you are lucky enough to see these plants in their wild state – tread lightly.
Trilliums are happiest in well drained loamy soil in the dappled light to deep shade. Having patience is key in getting this lovely unique plant established in your garden. The plants being sold currently at Oaktown NP Nursery come from an individual I purchased at a local botanical garden 10 years ago. For the first couple of years I was just happy to watch the interesting process of the whorl of leaves twist their way up and out of the ground. Six years ago the plant began to bloom. Each year there after I would get one or two more blooms. Finally last year one of our local restoration heroes showed the process of digging and dividing a plant in his yard. This gave me the courage to do the same with mine. The happy result being that we now have some available for purchase at the nursery.