Ontario has more Trillium species than you might be aware of – Five to be exact. I’m reposting all of my photos in one complete set – enjoy!
To start this post off, here is the flower that everyone knows and loves, the White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum):
The White Trilliums are the symbol of Ontario (used in the logo for the province and the provincial flower) and a symbol of spring. They bloom before the deciduous trees in the forests come back to life, taking all of the sunlight for themselves and away from the forest floor. They can be found all throughout Ontario.
Next up, the Red Trillium (Trillium erectum):
Red Trilliums differ from the white variety in a few important ways. Their colour and smell are designed to imitate rotting meat – this is because these flowers are not pollinated by bees, but rather by flies. Red Trilliums are also observed to bloom earlier than White Trilliums, the change in pollination might also be because flies are out sooner than bees are, giving these flowers a better chance for success in early spring.
A little less common, but very beautiful: the Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum):
Painted Trilliums have a splash of colour near the base of the leaves, redish purple that appears to be almost painted on (hence the name). This variety of trillium likes very acidic, humus-rich soils. You can find it around species of trees that like the same soil conditions, including eastern white pine, red maple, red spruce and balsam fir (thanks, Wikipedia!).
You have to look very carefully in Simcoe County to find the next one, though they are common the further northwest you travel: The Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum):
The Nodding Trillium’s white flower hangs below the main pedals of the plant, making it difficult to spot from far away. The flower is also much smaller than any of the above species and is found in rich, moist soils.
The next is the rarest of the bunch; It is on Ontario’s Endangered Species List and only found in two small patches in Sourthern Ontario – the Drooping Trillium (Trillium flexipes):
The Drooping Trillium was once found as far north-east as the Niagara Falls area, and as of 2009 is a protected species. It still exists in various parts of the United States, where it is often protected as well. The plant is quite similar to the Nodding Trillium, though it grows through a different range and has a noticeably different structure in the center of the flower.
I was in contact with a biologist who works for the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, Muriel Andrae. She has this to say about the difference between the two flowers:
“The taxonomic distinction between the Drooping and Nodding relates to the stamens, the pollen-bearing structures in the flower. The “stem” of the stamen is called the filament and the “head” which has the actual pollen is called the anther.
In Drooping Trilliums (Trillium flexipes) the filaments are short, about a third as long as the anthers and not exposed in the fresh flower
While in the Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum) the filaments are 2/3 as long as the anthers or longer and plainly visible in the fresh flower.”
So there you have it, all of the Trillium species in Ontario – from the common White Trillium to the endangered Drooping Trillium. I hope you enjoy the photo series and the information that goes along with it!