Nature’s Notebook

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Photo for species Trillium_undulatum

Ants disperse the seeds of Trillium undulatum. Initially, they are attracted to the small, white structure joined to the seed called an "elaiosome," and carry it to their nests. This structure is rich in oil and emits a chemical that attracts ants. After the ants eat the elaiosomes, they discard the seeds within their tunnels where they later germinate. The fruits, seeds, and rhizomes of trilliums are generally considered to be poisonous to humans. In some areas, Trillium undulatum has been given an "endangered" status.

Photo Credit:
© Doug Sherman, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, wildflower.org.

Trillium undulatum

painted trillium
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Painted trillium is a perennial, herbaceous plant that grows 8 to 24 inches tall. The white flowers with purple markings appear when the plant is 4 to 7 years old, or more, and are insect-pollinated.

Painted trillium grows primarily in dark, mesic forests or thickets with humus-rich, well-drained, acid soils.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
CT, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, NB, NC, NH, NJ, NS, NY, OH, ON, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WV
Special Considerations for Observing

If drought seems to be the cause of leaf senescence for a plant, please make a comment about it for that observation.

Which phenophases should I observe?
Leaves

Do you see...?

Initial growth
New growth of the plant is visible after a period of no growth (winter or drought), either from above-ground buds with green tips, or new green or white shoots breaking through the soil surface. Growth is considered "initial" on each bud or shoot until the first leaf has fully unfolded. For seedlings, "initial" growth includes the presence of the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) before the first true leaf has unfolded.

Leaves
One or more live, fully unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. For seedlings, consider only true leaves and do not count the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) that are found on the stem almost immediately after the seedling germinates. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

Flowers

Do you see...?

Flowers or flower buds
One or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Include flower buds or inflorescences that are swelling or expanding, but do not include those that are tightly closed and not actively growing (dormant). Also do not include wilted or dried flowers.

How many flowers and flower buds are present? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), simply estimate the number of flower heads, spikes or catkins and not the number of individual flowers.

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

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Open flowers
One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between or within unfolded or open flower parts (petals, floral tubes or sepals). Do not include wilted or dried flowers.

What percentage of all fresh flowers (buds plus unopened plus open) on the plant are open? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), estimate the percentage of all individual flowers that are open.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Fruits

Do you see...?

Fruits
One or more fruits are visible on the plant. For Trillium undulatum, the fruit is a fleshy capsule that changes from green to bright red and drops from the plant.

How many fruits are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

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Ripe fruits
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. For Trillium undulatum, a fruit is considered ripe when it has turned bright red and readily drops from the plant when touched.

What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Recent fruit or seed drop
One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

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