Erythronium americanum

Hello Garden Friends and Happy Spring!

We have been christened with LOTS of liquid sunshine in April, violent storms and rollercoaster weather temperatures. And yes all of these April showers will no doubt bring May flowers. As a result of all this rain and snow we had (real winter this year YAY) I noticed the spring ephemerals are quite abundant.  And on a woodland walk with my Momma I noticed this beauty below: 

This is, Erythronium Americanum “Yellow Trout Lily” it was showing itself in mass with such wonder, it made me venture deeper into the woods to get closer and seriously think about going back for a few to put in my own woodland garden; at the time I did not have the essentials to dig them up properly, LOL!

The beautiful yellow flowers are like little decorative showy hats on a spring maiden as if she were nodding her head to bring attention to herself while wearing a dark brown dress with spots upon. It is as if she danced in a florescent spring puddle that splashed upon her woodland garment, just SPECTACULAR. They make me smile down into my soul.  You will find them amongst the dead leaves that are now brown and crunchy and slowly being taken over by Spring’s new life emerging. They are wonderful to see on the forest floor snuggled in deep and awaiting someone to just notice them, well we sure did, and it was a treat!

This beauty is in the Lily Family (Liliaceae) and as mentioned it is a spring ephemeral (early plant emerging at the onset of Spring or Vernal Equinox) so it will only be present for about 2-3 weeks in the season after it blooms. It’s common name Trout Lily is given because its leaf markings resemble that of the skin of a brown or brook trout.  It prefers dapplied sunlight to medium shade and loamy soil with leaf litter or decaying organic matter. Most of its growth and development occurs before the trees fully develop their vernal leaves. It is a native wildflower and adapts to the shade of deciduous trees. But be patient with this beauty it takes about 8 years before individual plants will flower in a typical woodland setting.  They enjoy being in the company of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) trees.  Their flowers mainly attract bees but like other woodland flowers its seeds are distributed by ants who are attracted to their food appendages. And because the leaves are small and inconspicuous the white tailed deer seem to only browse over them plus their mottled leaf pattern helps disguise them from this animal and other mammalian herbivores who lack color vision.  So the next time you take a woodland stroll or forest hike this season keep an eye out for these little gems and just stop, be still and enjoy the beauty they exude.

Till next time, get your hands dirty, walk barefoot in the grass and exhale deep in the solace of your garden.  Take care!