Trillium is TRI LILLIUM. They have three broad leaves, three petals, three small green sepals, three-sectioned seedpod. All are found in the understory of rich, deciduous, or mixed forests.
The trillium is also known as wood lily or birthroot / birthwort, because of how the plants were used medicinally.
We know five native trillium species found in Ontario:
White Trillium / Trillium grandiflorum
Red Trillium / Trillium erectum
Nodding Trillium / Trillium cernuum
Painted Trillium / Trillium undulatum
Drooping Trillium / Trillium flexipes
The Drooping Trillium is actually a species at risk here in Ontario primarily due to habitat loss and degradation.
Initially the Trillium genus was placed in the family Liliaceae, which by 1981 had grown to about 280 genera and 4,000 species. In 1998, the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group assigned the genus Trillium (of about fifty flowering plant species), along with genera Paris and Pseudotrillium, to the family Melanthiaceae.
This dispersal method is known as Myrmecochory.
Ants are attracted to the protein-rich elaiosome on the seeds of trilliums, which they eat and transport them away from the parent plant. The actual seeds are not harmed during this process, and are later discarded to grow a new plant.
Trilliums have a few short weeks in the spring to collect as much sunlight and nutrients as possible to be able to survive for the rest of the year. Picking parts off a trillium plant can kill it even if the rhizome is left undisturbed.
In 2009, it did almost became illegal to pick trilliums in Ontario because rural affairs minister Jeff Leal introduced a private members’ bill called the Ontario Trillium Protection Act. That legislation would have made it illegal to pick or dig up the white trillium. Doing so would have resulted in a minimum $500 fine. However, although the bill passed first reading, it never became law.
Most people know of the White Trillium, Ontario’s provincial flower,
The white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) serves as the official flower and emblem of the Canadian province of Ontario.
On March 25, 1937, the Province of Ontario chose the trillium as its official floral emblem and the trillium has been the Ontario government’s official logo since 1964.
The Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty completely revamped the logo in 2006.
The new logo quickly became known as the “three men in a hot tub” logo — once you see it, you can’t unsee it — and was widely criticized both for its design and cost.
Photography Mik Herman for Geonmagazine