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Erythronium dens-canis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Liliaceae
Subfamily: Lilioideae
Tribe: Lilieae
Genus: Erythronium
Type species
Erythronium dens-canis
  • Mithridatium Adans. 1763, illegitimate superfluous name
  • Dens-canis Tourn. ex Rupp. 1745, not validly published

Erythronium, the fawn lily, trout lily, dog's-tooth violet or adder's tongue, is a genus of Eurasian and North American plants in the lily family,[2][3][4][5][6] most closely related to tulips.[7] The name Erythronium derives from Ancient Greek ἐρυθρός (eruthrós) "red" in Greek, referring to the red flowers of E. dens-canis.[7] Of all the established species, most live in North America; only six species are found in Europe and Asia.


Erythronium includes about 20–30 species of hardy spring-flowering perennial plants with long, tooth-like bulbs. Slender stems carry pendent flowers with recurved tepals in shades of cream, yellow, pink and mauve. Species are native to forests and meadows in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.[1][8][9]

Image Species Common name Distribution
Erythronium albidum Nutt. small white fawn-lily, white fawn-lily, white trout-lily, tooth-lily Ontario, east-central United States (MN to CT south to TX, AL)
Erythronium americanum Ker-Gawl. trout-lily, yellow trout-lily, yellow adder's-tongue, yellow dogtooth violet Eastern Canada (Ontario to Labrador), Eastern United States (ME to GA, West to Mississippi River)
Erythronium californicum Purdy California fawn-lily Northern California
Erythronium caucasicum Woronow Caucasian dog's tooth violet Caucasus, Iran
Erythronium citrinum S. Wats. cream fawn-lily Oregon, Northern California
Erythronium dens-canis L. dog's-tooth violet Southern, Central Europe from Portugal to Ukraine
Erythronium elegans Hammond & Chambers Coast Range fawn-lily Oregon
Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh dogtooth lily, glacier lily, yellow avalanche-lily, yellow fawn-lily western Canada, western United States
Erythronium helenae Applegate Pacific fawn-lily California (Sonoma, Napa, Lake Cos.)
Erythronium hendersonii S. Wats. Henderson's fawn-lily Oregon, Northern California
Erythronium howellii S. Wats. Howell's fawn-lily Oregon, Northern California
Erythronium idahoense H.St.John & G.N.Jones - Idaho fawn-lily Montana, Idaho, Washington state
Erythronium japonicum Decne. katakuri Japan, Korea, Russia (Kuril Islands, Sakhalin), China (Jilin, Liaoning)
Erythronium klamathense Applegate Klamath fawn-lily Oregon, Northern California
Erythronium krylovii Stepanov Tuvan trout-lily Russia (Tuva, Krasnoyarsk)
Erythronium mesochoreum Knerr midland fawn-lily, white fawn-lily Central United States (TX to NE, IN)
Erythronium montanum S. Wats. avalanche lily, white avalanche-lily BC, Washington state, Oregon
Erythronium multiscapideum (Kellogg) A. Nels. & Kennedy Sierra fawn-lily California
Erythronium oregonum Applegate giant white fawn-lily BC, Washington, California, Oregon
Erythronium pluriflorum Shevock, Bartel & G.A.Allen manyflower fawn-lily Madera Co in California
Erythronium propullans Gray dwarf trout-lily Minnesota
Erythronium purpurascens S. Wats. purple fawn-lily California
Erythronium pusaterii (Munz & J.T. Howell) Shevock, Bartel & G.A.Allen Kaweah Lakes fawn-lily Tulare Co in California
Erythronium quinaultense G.A.Allen Olympic fawn-lily Olympic Peninsula in Washington state
Erythronium revolutum Sm. mahogany fawn-lily BC, Washington state, Oregon, California
Erythronium rostratum W.Wolf yellow trout-lily south-central United States
Erythronium sajanense Stepanov & Stassova Krasnoyarsk in Russia
Erythronium sibiricum (Fisch. & C.A.Mey.) Krylov Siberian fawn-lily Siberia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, Mongolia
Erythronium sulevii (Rukšans) Stepanov Altay Krai in Russia
Erythronium taylorii Shevock & G.A.Allen Taylor's fawn-lily Tuolumne Co California
Erythronium tuolumnense Applegate Tuolumne fawn-lily Tuolumne Co in California
Erythronium umbilicatum Parks & Hardin dimpled trout-lily southeastern United States (Florida to Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland)

Formerly included[edit]

Two species names were coined using the name Erythronium but have since been reclassified to other taxa.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Erythroniums are widely grown as ornamental plants, with numerous hybrids and cultivars having been selected for garden use. Popular cultivars include Erythronium 'Pagoda', E. 'Sundisc', E. 'Joanna', E. 'Kondo', E. 'Citronella', E. californicum 'White Beauty', and E. 'Rosalind'. Propagation is best by seed in autumn or by division of bulbs, depending on species. Some species propagate vegetatively. The plant is also great as a ground cover, as it will spread over several years.

The following cultivars, of mixed ancestry, have won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

  • 'Apple Blossom' [10] (white with yellow centre)
  • 'Janice' [11] (pink)
  • 'Joanna' [12] (cream/pale yellow throat)
  • 'Pagoda' [13] (cream yellow)
  • 'Sundisc'[14] (yellow)
  • 'Wildside Seedling' [15] (white/yellow)

The bulb is edible as a root vegetable, cooked or dried, and can be ground into flour. The leaves can also be cooked as a leaf vegetable. In Japan, Erythronium japonicum is called katakuri, and the bulb is processed to produce starch, which is used for food and other purposes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Erythronium". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. ^ Hickman, James C., ed. (1993). "Erythronium". The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University and Jepson Herbaria.
  3. ^ Chen, Xinqi; Tamura, Minoru N. "Erythronium". Flora of China. Vol. 24 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  4. ^ "Dente di cane, Dog's Tooth Violet, genere Erythronium". Altervista Flora Italiana.
  5. ^ Clennett, J.C.B. (2006). A taxonomic revision of Erythronium L. (Liliaceae): 1-290. Thesis, Open University, Ardingly, U.K.
  6. ^ Clennett, C. (2014). The genus Erythronium: 1-158. Kew Publishing, Kew.
  7. ^ a b Allen, Geraldine A.; Robertson, Kenneth R. (2002). "Erythronium". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 26. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  8. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1-4053-3296-5.
  9. ^ "Erythronium". County-level distribution maps from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014.
  10. ^ "Erythronium 'Apple Blossom'". RHS. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Erythronium 'Janice'". RHS. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Erythronium 'Joanna'". RHS. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Erythronium 'Pagoda'". RHS. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Erythronium 'Sundisc'". RHS. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Erythronium 'Wildside Seedling'". RHS. Retrieved 18 June 2020.