Life from Death

while trillium

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak digital single lens reflex body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.


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Trillium rise from the decaying tree roots.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

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Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

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Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Massed White Trillium Blooms

Wonder of the northern spring forest

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I came upon this display April 2004, a wonder of the northern spring forest.

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

Click here for my Online Gallery offering of trillium.

An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

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On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Overlapping Hepatica and Trillium Blooms

four of a kind

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Four views of purple trillium, three of a grouping and one portrait. Taken in the same session of a rare set of perfect blooms growing wild.

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak dslr body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.


Fillmore Glen Purple Trillium

The trillium plant grows from a body of rhizomes, a type of underground stem you can think of as a type of root. There are rhizomes when use to flavor food such as turmeric, though trillium is not one of these.

Fillmore Glen Purple Trillium

The single scape grows straight from the ground to form a whorl of three bracts mirrored by the three green (usually) sepals and, again, by the three flower petals for which it is named.

You can clearly see all of this in my photographs.

Fillmore Glen Purple Trillium

Fillmore Glen Purple Trillium

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Turned Back

Trail closed at bridge seven

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the ninth post of this series. Click me for “The Spaceship and the Waterfall,” the first post in this series.

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Seventh Bridge

We laughed at the trail-head sign, “Caution Muddy Trails.” White shorts beware. Somebody complained and demanded immediate resolution to the situation.

Another sign advised the Gorge Trail was closed after the seventh bridge. In my post “Bridge Views” these bridges are described. We could cross the seventh bridge, a barrier and a strongly worded sign, “Proceed no further, you will be prosecuted,” blocked the way. Here is the view, looking upstream.

The blocked path climbs the steep northern glen wall. This is the south wall, from the bridge. There was a young mother with two children, a girl, 6 or 7, and her 7 or 8 years old brother, each well equipped for the expedition with appropriate clothing and backpacks.

The family proceeded while I lingered to gaze up the blocked trail. I was tempted to crawl over the barrier, the ascending trail was clear the entire visible length. Being more cautious with age, or growing wisdom, I suppressed the urge and took in sights on the return trip.

The leaves of hepatica among mosses and sorrell

On bridge number six the girl has her entire backpack contents spread over the path, a naturalist examining her kit. So sweet. Nia and Pam, at this point, were far ahead of me.

Stairs on approach to the Sixth Bridge

Moss is another plant proven valuable to humankind.

Sphagnum moss was used for wound dressing during World War I, being almost sterile and highly absorbent. The flat growth to the lower right I do not recognize.

An Orchid

This strange orchid, the species name references a similarity to hellebore

Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine)
Flower of the Broad-leaved Helleborine growing up from other leaves
Compelling Leaf Arrangement

With is we left the Gorge trail for this day, with a plan to return to approach the eight bridge from the north.

View of steam fed pool from near start of Gorge Trail
Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved