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Plant Description


Trillium cernuum L.

En: nodding trillium, nodding wakerobin
Fr: trille penché

Melanthiaceae (Melanthium Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Trillium cernuumflpl Trillium cernuumlvs Trillium cernuumflw Trillium cernuumfrt


General: A smooth, perennial forb, 1.5–6 dm tall, originating from a thick rhizome. The nodding trillium is easily recognized by its terminal whorl of 3 leaves and its single white flower, which as its common name indicates, is bent down, nearly hidden beneath the leaves.

Leaves: 3, in a single whorl at the top of stem, simple, palmately veined. Leaves broadly obovate, 4–15 cm long and wide; tapering to the base, short-stalked or nearly sessile; apex sharply pointed (acuminate); margins entire.

Flower: Bisexual, solitary, borne on a terminal stalk (peduncle), 0.5–3.5 cm long, that bends down below the leaves. Sepals 3, green, lanceolate; petals 3, white, broadly elliptic to ovate, 1.5–2.5 cm long, 5–9 mm wide; both sepals and petals are recurved at the tips; stamens 6, anthers pink, a bit longer than or equal in length to the white filaments; pistil white to pink-tinged, bearing 6 ridges, ovary superior, 3-chambered inside; style 3-branched, with recurving tips; stigmas extend along the inner surface of the style branches. Flowers bloom in late spring and early summer.

Fruit: A fleshy berry, ridged, turning dark red when mature. Fruits mature in late summer.

Habitat and Range: In moist deciduous and mixedwood forests, most commonly found in acidic soils, but also present in hardwood forests over limestone, as on St. Joseph and Manitoulin Islands.

Internet Images: The Trillium cernuum webpage from the Saskatchewan Native Plants website.

The Trillium cernuum webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.

Similar Species: The only other solid white-petalled trillium in northern Ontario is the white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), which has flowers that are held erect on a stalk, 2–12 cm long. Flowers of the white trillium are larger, with sepals 2.5–5 cm long and oblong petals 4–8.5 cm long and 1.7–4 cm wide.

Read more about the different species of Trillium in North America at Dr. Susan Farmer's website, Trillium and the Trillium Family (Trilliaceae).

Comparison of Trillium species in northern Ontario


traits

Trillium
cernuum

(nodding trillium)
Trillium grandiflorum
(white trillium)
Trillium
undulatum

(painted trillium)
Trillium
erectum

(red trillium)

flower colour
white, to 2.5 cm long white, fading to pink, 2–5 cm long white with reddish-purple streaks at base, 2–5 cm long dark red to 5 cm long
flower position nodding, hidden beneath leaves erect erect erect
anther colour pink yellow white or pink maroon to yellow
ovary colour white to pinkish white to greenish white dark red to maroon
leaves sessile sessile sessile petiolate


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