Trillium erectum

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Trillium erectum
Red Trillium plant, Mer Bleue.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Trillium
Species: T. erectum
Binomial name
Trillium erectum

Trillium erectum, also known as red trillium,[3] wake-robin, purple trillium,[4] Beth root, or stinking Benjamin,[5] is a species of flowering plant native to the east and north-east of North America. It is a spring ephemeral, an herbaceous perennial whose life-cycle is synchronised with that of the deciduous forests where it lives.

Composite image showing both red and white color morphs of the flower of Trillium erectum. Note that both morphs have a dark purple gynoecium with contrasting anthers

This plant grows to about 40 cm (16 in) in height with a spread of 30 cm (12 in), and can tolerate extreme cold in winter, surviving temperatures down to −35 °C (−31 °F). Like all trilliums, its parts are in groups of three, with 3-petalled flowers above whorls of pointed triple leaves.[6] The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals and crystal raphide, and should not be consumed by humans. The flowers are a deep red colour, though there is a white form. The flowers have the smell of rotting meat, as they are pollinated by flies.

The plant takes its name "wake-robin" by analogy with the robin, which has a red breast heralding spring.

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[7]

  • Trillium erectum var. album (Michx.) Pursh
  • Trillium erectum var. erectum


  1. ^ "Trillium erectum". NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  2. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ "Trillium erectum". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 15 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Dickinson, T.; Metsger, D.; Bull, J.; & Dickinson, R. (2004) ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario. Toronto:Royal Ontario Museum, p. 79.
  5. ^ Stinking Benjamin: A trillium that by any other name would smell so sweet, adirondack almanack
  6. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Trillium erectum". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 

External links[edit]

Trillium erectum