Other names: White wake-robin, white trillium
Family: Melanthiaceae (Bunch Flower Family)
In the past has been part of Liliaceae (Lily Family) or Trilliaceae (Trillium family).
Range: Ontario and Quebec in Canada. In the US: Western Maine and New Hampshire down to Georgia and north to Minnesota. It’s the official provincial flower of Ontario and the state wildflower of Ohio.
Native Habitat: Rich woods
Bloom Time: May to June
I’m cheating a bit with this entry: this isn’t truly a Maine wild endemic species, but it’s much more well known than its wild cousins that do naturally range here, so I figured I’d start with this showiest of the trillium species.
The flowers become pink as they age, so that’s not actually a different species – you can just tell how long each flower has been around.
Native Americans used the plant for a variety of medicinal purposes. It can also be harvested for the greens, but that’s fatal to the plant, as the leaves are directly attached to the root stock, and removing the leaves will kill the plant.
This is a favorite food of white-tailed deer – they’ll preferentially seek it out if it’s available.
This is a very popular plant for gardens, but it’s slow to germinate, and should not be bought from wild stock. It’s very hard to tell what’s come from wild stock or not, so if you really must have these flowers in your garden, be very picky about where you’re getting them from. This species is actually considered an endangered species in Maine – I’ve only seen it in cultivated gardens. (According to the Maine state site referenced below, it’s only been recorded in three sites, in Franklin and Kennebec counties.) They do form dense clone carpets – you can see the beginnings of one in the pictures from the Park-McCullough House.
My favorite place to find these is the McLaughlin Garden in South Paris. While it’s probably more known for its lilacs, it has a great spring wildflower collection, of which the trilliums feature prominently. (There are even additional trillium species to see.)
The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden also has a collection. It’s in the Children’s Garden, on the side closest to the visitor’s center. It’s a small collection, but there several different species to see.
Locations in Photos:
Park McCullough House, North Bennington, VT