Snow Trilliums

Spring arrives when the Snow Trilliums (Trillium nivale) are in bloom here in eastern Iowa. We looked for them on Sunday and found none. On Monday a friend said he found several hundred in his favorite spot. We went back on Monday to the spot where we had looked and only found only a few. After getting directions to our friend’s spot further along the ravines we found hundreds yesterday.

The top and  sides of the small area were very dry and crumbly. Snow Trilliums are said to prefer moist woods. These were popping out of the gravelly dry ground in singles and small groups. Most were less than two inches tall.

The bud to the right is only about 1 1/2 inches tall. Its stem is barely out of the ground and it is already unfurling its leaves, sepals and blossom. There were many other nubs poking above the dry, mostly bare, ground. Snow Trilliums usually bloom for about two weeks.

The Snow Trillium’s sepals are pewter color and like most flowers are meant to protect the bud. The blooms open quickly on warm days.  The tips of the petals are often rippled. Yesterday was not warm but the sun sifting through the shrubs and trees had encouraged many to open.

We found several unusual blossoms of a very soft, shell pink. Our camera sensors could not really capture the delicacy of the color. Four were buds about half open and this fully open  one was about 3 feet (1 meter) away from the opening buds. Color is always dependent on the technology (whether film or digital) that is trying to replicate it.

Sometimes white flowers turn a pale magenta pink when they are crumbling and drying out at the end of their bloom time. These were fresh with lots of pollen on their stamens so we think they were really a very pale pink. There are always things to learn in nature.

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