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Trillium blooms in Ontario.

Trillium’s Three, Along Winding Roads

  • “Three bright white petals
  • Three large green rounded leaves
  • Three ‘blasts’ the trillium white star
  • Points them close look-see!”
  • ~ Diane M Quinlan

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium

1. Trilliums are heralds of spring

They quickly bloom in early spring when big trees are still “naked”. Botanically, they are “spring ephemerals.” The plant is most common in rich deciduous and mixed upland forests. Trilliums grow from a short rhizome and produce a single, large, show-white and odourless flower atop a whorl of three leaves. If you catch the moment and go to the woods in the right time, you’ll be mesmerized looking at the white carpet covering everything around.

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2. Trillium is extremely fragile

Trilliums are extremely fragile: if you pick the flower no other trillium will grow in its place, even if the rhizome is left undisturbed.

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium3. A trillium has 16 seeds

Trillium fruits are released in the summer, containing about 16 seeds on average.

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4. Ants spread trillium seeds

Ants are agents of trillium seeds dispersal. At maturity, the base and core of the trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. This flash attracts ants: they collect the seeds and transport them away from the parent plant.

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium

5. Trillium grows slow

In nature, trilliums grow very slow. White trillium (Trillium Grandiflorum) typically requires seven to ten years in optimal conditions to reach flowering size.

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium

6. Trillium needs 2 years to germinate

Trillium seeds require double dormancy, meaning they normally take at least two years to fully germinate.

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium

7. Trillium loves light

Trilliums are very sensitive to light and usually bend toward the sun as it moves across the sky. The blossoms are usually facing the sun.

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8. Deer loves trilliums

Trilliums are a favoured food of white-tailed deer, with a preference for white trillium to the exclusion of others (if a variety of trilliums is available).

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9. Trillium is called birthwort

Several trillium species contain phytochemicals called sapogenins. In folk medicine they have been used as uterine stimulants, the inspiration for the common name birthwort.

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium

10. Trillium – Ontario floral emblem

A white trillium is the emblem and official flower of Ontario. It was designated the provincial emblem of Ontario in 1937 (Floral Emblem Act). The adoption of the White Trillium grew out of a movement during the First World War to choose a national floral emblem appropriate for planting on the graves of Canadian servicemen overseas. It was recommended by a special committee of botanists to the Ontario Horticultural Association. In a British botanical work published in 1760 there is a reference to the trilliums as “the herb True Love of Canada.”

11 Surprising Facts about Trillium

11. Trillium – official symbol of the Government of Ontario

A white trillium is an official symbol of the Government of Ontario. As an official symbol of Ontario, a stylized trillium flower features prominently in the wordmark of the Government of Ontario and on the official flag of the province’s French-speaking minority. Government agencies and programs also frequently incorporate the word “trillium” in their names, such as the Trillium Gift of Life Network (organ donation management agency) and the Ontario Trillium Foundation (which provides grants to nonprofit and charitable organizations). It is also frequently used by the Canadian Heraldic Authority to represent Ontario in grants of arms

11 Surprising Facts about TrilliumIs it illegal to pick a white trillium in Ontario?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to pick a White Trillium in Ontario. However, picking the flower can seriously injure the plant and it can take years to recover. Enjoy the gentle beauty of trillium white flowers, photograph them, point them out to children and friends, but do not kill them.

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