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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
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 third post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.
Emerging from the blind canyon of Cowsheds Waterfall, we are faced with this gorgeous pool fed by Dry Creek (yes, that is the name). Formed by a dam, the water is deep and very cold.
We were standing on this footbridge for the above photograph. The trail to Cowsheds is on the far side of Dry Creek and to the right.
We have yet to count these steps, don’t know why. The limestone blocks were quarried locally from the same stone of the creek bed. The gorge trail begins at the top.
Trillium Seed Capsule
This is a Purple Trillium, I believe, formal name Trillium erectum. It is a large specimen judging form the width of the bracts, leaf like structures at the based of the flower stalk. When fertilized, the ovaries form this seed capsule containing up to 16 seeds, each with lipid with a high content of oleic acid. During summer, the capsule opens, seeds disperse. Ants encounter the seed elaiosome, the oleic acid content triggers “corpse carrying behavior.” The ants carry the seeds into their nests, consume the lipids leaving the seeds. After a year dormancy the seeds sprout and the additional depth in the ant nest provides a good start.
Trillium are a favorite food of deer, unfortunately. Some seeds are spread this way, passing through the digestive tract and out in fecal waste. I use the color of the seed capsule to identify it was Purple Trillium. In my experience the white variety (Trillium grandiflorum, and others) has a light colored seed capsule.
Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
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.
Click any photograph for a larger view.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills