Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator
It takes seven years to see the beautiful blooms of the Trillium grandiflorum, but it’s worth the wait to see the flowers creeping on the forest floor.
The Trillium is Ontario’s Provincial flower, but it isn’t the only species that grows in this province, even though it is the most famous. The Trillium is easy to spot when it is in bloom: there are three broad leaves, and three white petals. As the plant ages, the petals turn pink.
Trilliums flower from late April to early June in deciduous woodlands. The most famous species prefers moist soil, and mature maple sugar trees and beech forests. There are very few, rare species of Trillium that prefer the heavily acidic soil around pine trees.
It’s important that the soil is well-drained but moist. Seeds do not immediately germinate, but the seed remains viable in moist soil. Once the seed germinates it is a slow process until the three white petals bloom. The Trillium takes it’s time to grow and the first year alone is spent on growing and settling roots. In the second year, the plant will grow one small leaf, and then it will take 2-3 more years for the three broad leaves to grow. The whole process takes a minimum of seven years.
Trilliums also prefer shady environments to full sun exposure. A threat to the Trillium is clear cut logging since it clears away the source of shade for the Trilliums. It’s illegal to pick the flower in conservation areas and provincial parks. Interestingly, if the flower is picked the plant won’t be damaged because the Trillium uses its leaves for photosynthesis. If the plant is damaged it takes at least one full year for the plant to regenerate, and it may not regenerate at all if the complex rootstalk network is damaged.
Conservation Halton is famous for the Maple trees during sugar bush season, and the magnificent colours during the fall, but it’s late spring and early summer when you can see blankets of the Trilliums on the trails. The Trilliums love the shade provided by the ubiquitous Maple trees in the parks. Hike in Halton Parks and admire the beauty of the Trilliums decorating the forest floor!