Last week while collecting eggs from the hens, something white caught my eye on the hill behind Chicken Mansion.
The white spot is near the fence, to the right of the dangling red cedar branch that fills the center of the above iPhone photo. It’s pretty difficult to see from this shot, but the white jumped out at me, so I climbed the slope to investigate.
Western Trillium or Trillium ovatum is growing at Coppertop! I found not one, not two, but THREE specimens of this lovely native perennial lily blooming in this shady spot.
I’m slowly realizing just how many plants, natives in particular, I’ve overlooked in the last couple of years. The first and only trillium I’ve seen was on a recent native plant walk with fellow master gardener trainees. Coppertop’s trilliums reveal the characteristic triple leaves, petals, sepals, and stigmas. One plant is a few yards away and features a mauve flower, which from my research means it’s a more mature bloom. Eventually the blooms should turn a deep rose before they wither.
There’s something wonderfully simple and almost sacred about this plant. For Christians, there’s significant symbolism; it’s practically the Holy Trinity in plant form.
While they are gorgeous to look at, trilliums are also extremely fragile, and picking them seriously injures the plant by preventing the bracts from replenishing food to the rhizome for the next blooming season. Thus, picking can kill the plant. I’ve read it’s illegal to pick Trillium ovatum in the wild in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.
From my go-to book on native plants, Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, authors Pojar & Mackinnon write:
The flower blooms early in the spring (March to May), just as the robins appear or “wake up,” giving rise to the alternative common name “wake-robin.”
I may go on a trillium hunt soon to see what other magic this land offers up.