From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Trilleum cuneatum (Little Sweet Betsy, Toad Trillium, Toadshade Trillium)

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... More About Trees and Plants...



Trillium cuneatum, toadshade trilliumThis actually falls under the category of unfinished business...

A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of the plants at left that I had seen as Isaac and I were walking down a backroad through the woods.

I wrote that I didn't know what the name of the plant was. Emily advised me in the comments that it was probably a trillium, and Lewis E. informed me of the same by email.

A bit of research reveals that my readers are absolutely correct. This is Trillium cuneatum, a spring wildflower of the eastern U.S. forests.

Common names I found associated with the plant include:
  • Little sweet Betsy
  • Wake robin
  • Toadshade trillium
  • Toad trillium
  • Hugher's trillium
  • Ground lily
  • Rose trillium
  • Jew's harp trillium
  • Goblet trillium
  • Whippoorwill flower
Surprisingly, Trilleum cuneatum is not included in my Guide to the Wildflowers & Ferns of Kentucky by Mary Wharton and Roger W. Barbour, which I thought was probably the bible of Kentucky wildflowers.

Trilleum cuneatum is included (pdf file) in the APSU online guide to KY / TN wildflowers of the Land Between the Lakes region that notes, "It is not widespread in LBL [Land Between the Lakes], but is locally abundant in a few mesic woods and usually colonial when found."

Read more about Trillium cuneatum at:

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2 comments:

RunAwayImagination said...

Thank you, Genevieve. I've admired these little plants for years. They come up every spring in the woods behind my house along with the may apples and Jack-in-the-Pulpits.

It's an amazing transformation that happens every year. After months of looking dead as a doornail, up through the leaf litter come these little heads poking their way toward the sky, harbingers of spring and a metaphonr for life's continual renewal of itself.

Genevieve said...

I had never seen these before, so in my eyes, they were something really rare and special. It is interesting that they survived the freeze with no apparent damage. Their petals have opened now and they are about done blooming.

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