Friday, May 22, 2009

Trilliums: Another Spring Wildflower

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), in Moccasin Trail Park

I took this photo this past weekend. These specimens are slightly worse for wear, possibly having been browsed by deer. According to Wikipedia, which has quite a good article on this particular species, the seeds are spread by both deer and ants. Seed dispersal by ants is fairly common with other spring wildflowers such as Bloodroot but trilliums are also the favourite food of deer. Deer may eat the plants but spread the seeds after travelling through their gut and being excreted. Ant dispersal may be up to 10m away but deer dispersal could be up to 1 km away.

The trillium is Ontario's provincial flower and an oft-quoted myth is that it is illegal to pick them. While untrue it does in some small way protect them from exploitation. However it doesn't stop some people from digging them up for their gardens such as is shown by this fellow who I caught stealing some from the nearby forest.

Fortunately trilliums are not endangered and there are still many patches throughout the Don, not only in its white form but also red and red/white. As with any native plants, my advice is to take only photos and leave the wild plants to their wild home... in the Don.

Look closely. The bag in this guy's left hand contains a couple of trilliums, plus soil. This guy gets negative karma points.


Andrea said...

I did a post recently on trilliums too, at . You're free to borrow the pictures if you'd like. :)

steve s said...

Either way, the guy should be arrested. He didn't take it from his own land, did he?