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Spotted Wakerobin, Spotted Trillium - Trillium maculatum


Family: Liliaceae - Lily family Genus Common Name: Trillium Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Trillium maculatum - Spotted Wakerobin, Spotted Trillium. There are over 40 species in the Trillium genus worldwide; Flora of North America lists 38 species being found on this continent. Trillium was placed in the Liliaceae family for most of its lifetime of scientific classification. Most authorities have recently removed it from Liliaceae and placed it in Melanthiaceae because unlike other Liliaceae, the petals and sepals of Trillium are distinctly different - in most other Liliaceae species very similar. (Note that this tepal issue is at play in other Liliaceae species such as Calochortus, and it is almost universally accepted that Liliaceae will continue to be dismembered.) Even more recent phylogenetic analysis (Schilling, Floden, and Farmer, 2013) implies that there are sufficient differences from other Melanthiaceae to warrant inclusion in a separate family, and a number of respected authorities now place Trillium in Trilliaceae.

Trillium maculatum is one of the sessile-flowered Trilliums (subgenus Phyllantherum.) It can be difficult to tell the difference between some of the species in that subgenus (I certainly find it so!) so it is most helpful to have someone with expertise do the identification for you. T. maculatum and T. cuneatum - closely related, along with T. luteum, based on recent phylogenetic analysis (referenced above) - look nearly identical to me. Fortunately, while their ranges overlap somewhat, T. cuneatum is a more northern species; the range of T. maculatum is in the southern half of the states in which it is found. I won on both counts here; these were located in Georgia near the Florida border, and the folks at Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve had identified them for me.

Trillium maculatum - Spotted Wakerobin - is a plant of rich forests on the bluffs, floodplains, and banks of streams in the deep south. It is an early-flowering species, blooming as early as the first part of February.

Found in:
AL, FL, GA, SC

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Trillium maculatum

Distribution of Trillium maculatum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 20 Sep 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, Grady County, Ga Date: 2014-February-19Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The petals of Trillium maculatum are more or less erect, usually spreading more than those of the similar Trillium cuneatum. The petals are most typically a dark red-maroon, but may also be a reddish purple, or in rare cases purple toward the base and becoming yellow toward the top end, or even solid yellow. The sepals are spreading to slightly erect, and usually maroon-streaked as in this plant. The sepal tips usually recurve somewhat. The sepals of the plant shown in this photo are somewhat unusual in that they are more somewhat more erect than most, and are curved inward rather than being recurved.
Trillium maculatum

Site: Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, Grady County, Ga Date: 2014-February-20Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The anther dehiscence of Spotted Wakerobin is introrse - the anthers are positioned so that the pollen-bearing surface is toward the inside of the flower. The stamens obscure the pistil. The sepals on this plant most closely show the normal spread and recurve than those on the prior photo.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Trillium maculatum

Site: Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, Grady County, Ga Date: 2014-February-20Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The scapes of Trillium maculatum are erect, and the bracts (some authorities continue to call them leaves) are held well above the ground - up to 18 inches. The tips of the leaves may droop, in some cases touching the ground only during early anthesis. As the plants age, the mottling becomes darker, and the petals may become more erect, with the tops of the petals touching (similar to the standard position of Trillium cuneatum), as shown by one of the plants in this photo.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Trillium maculatum

Site: Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, Grady County, Ga Date: 2014-February-19Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
This is one of the rare color forms of Trillium maculatum, with burgundy / yellow petals and yellow stamens. This particular specimen doesnít exactly match any of the three named color forms for which Iíve found descriptions.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Trillium maculatum

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer