Erythronium albidum (White Trout Lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: White Fawn Lily, White Dog-tooth Violet, White Adder's Tongue
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flowers] 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.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is an erect capsule, generally oval, up to 1 inch long at maturity.


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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Terri - Mankato
on: 2009-04-21 10:41:22

Walking the Red Jacket Bike trail in the city limits of Mankato, MN has patches of these floweres along the trail.

Posted by: Phil - Brooklyn Park
on: 2010-06-19 20:09:27

There are several patches of white trout lilies around the Rum River Roadside Rest area, about 10 miles north of Milaca, on Hwy. 169. Best time to see them in blossom seems to be early May. They are interspersed among the hundres of trilliums. These, apparently, are NOT the endangered Dwarf Trout Lily.

Posted by: Susan - Beaver Creek Valley State Park
on: 2012-04-10 08:33:53

Lots of these were along the trails in Beaver Creek Valley State Park, ready to bloom this past weekend but we didn't see any blooms open.

Posted by: Ellen - Mullins Woodland, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota
on: 2013-05-10 13:41:52

One open bloom in Mullins Woodland on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota. Didn't seen any other blooms.

Posted by: Wendy - Dodge Center
on: 2013-05-15 12:49:10

I saw several of these in bloom today at the Dodge Center Creek Park (City Park).

Posted by: Jeff - Martin County, Fairmont, MN
on: 2014-07-28 15:12:02

Many in neighbors lawn and in a park south of town, I first thought they were dwarf trout lilies, which are endangered, but now think they are white trout lilies.

Posted by: Julie - Brown County, just south of New Ulm
on: 2015-04-19 20:07:09

This is blooming on the DNR trail south of New Ulm right now. The leaves are everywhere but only a few have flowers.

Posted by: Donna - Carly State Park
on: 2015-04-26 20:39:46

They are blooming now and easily found along the trails.

Posted by: Laurie - Isanti County, near the Rice Lake area west of Braham
on: 2015-05-04 22:20:47

Isanti County is not marked on the map but we do have a huge population of them on the family farm, near the northern edge of Isanti County. The 10 acre woods is carpeted in White Trout Lilies right now.

Posted by: Jeff - Fairmont, Martin County
on: 2015-05-05 17:27:02

These are blooming in my neighbors back yard.

Posted by: Amber - Lofgren Trail, Littlefork, Koochiching County
on: 2016-03-10 09:23:40

These are growing in large numbers along the hiking trail in Lofgren Park.

Posted by: Mary - Eagan
on: 2016-04-23 21:37:50

A small patch are in bloom in a neighbor's yard. About 1-2 dozen are in the grass next to the garage. We are not near water or woods.

Posted by: Evan - Banning State Park
on: 2016-04-28 22:41:59

Found numerous extensive colonies of White Trout Lilies along the section of the Skunk Cabbage Trail that follows the Kettle River. Spotted 4-28-2016.

Posted by: Brenda - Houston County
on: 2016-04-30 15:04:50

Trout lilies in full force in Mayville Township. This is the first year I have seen them. We have both the white and yellow ones. I'll have to get a closer look for the dwarf variety.

Posted by: Julie - Randall tree dump site, Morrison County,Mn
on: 2016-05-05 14:36:51

Did not know what all those gorgeous little flowers were--thanks for the web site so I could identify them as White Trout lilies.

Posted by: Kimberly - Jackson County - Kilen Woods State Park
on: 2017-04-21 19:14:23

Thousands of plants blooming in the park. Beautiful!

Posted by: C clark - Madison wi
on: 2017-05-02 09:33:20

Does anyone know why the huge patches of leaves don't flower? Do they need a special type of fungus in the soil like lady's slipper?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-05-02 09:54:32

Non-flowering, vegetative shoots are not all that uncommon in the plant world. As for trout lilies, at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park (Rice County, MN) the forest floor is carpeted with millions of trout lily leaves and only a small percent send up flowering stems. We see only a small percent flowering in our own garden, too. Since they easily spread vegetatively, there isn't as much pressure to flower and produce seed in order to survive.

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