Erythronium albidum (White Trout Lily)
|Also known as:||White Fawn Lily, White Dog-tooth Violet, White Adder's Tongue|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist woods|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are about 1 inch across and long, nodding down at the end of a naked stem that arises from the base of the plant. There are 6 white tepals (3 petals and 3 petal-like sepals) that curve back, and 6 yellow stamens that extend down from the center. The backs of the tepals are often tinged violet. The flowers close up at night and open in the morning. One plant produces a single flower, but not all plants have flowers.
There are 1 or 2 basal leaves, generally elliptical, tapering to a point at both ends, with smooth edges and short stalks. Immature, non-flowering plants have 1 leaf, flowering plants have 2 leaves of unequal size, the larger up to 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. The color is mottled green and brown. Leaves may be curled or folded lengthwise some, or opened flat.
White Trout Lily is one of the first woodland flowers to bloom in the spring. It can form massive colonies—there are literally millions of them at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. The leaves of trout lilies are easily recognizable, but there are multiple species that have the same kind of leaves and grow at the same time in the same habitat. They aren't very distinguishable when not flowering. Dwarf Trout Lily (Erythronium propullans), which is very rare and has much smaller white flowers typically with only 4 tepals, and Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium amreicanum), which has yellow flowers and is restricted to the easternmost counties of Minnesota. White Trout Lily is often mistaken for the endangered Dwarf, with which it often grows side by side, but the flower size difference is unmistakable.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- White Trout Lily plants
- a colony of White Trout Lily, with Dutchman's Breeches
- budding plants in the snow
- flowers waiting to open
- White Trout Lily pollinators
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Anoka County, and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Rice County, and in Goodhue County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?