Erythronium albidum (White Trout Lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: White Fawn Lily, White Dog-tooth Violet, White Adder's Tongue
Genus:Erythronium
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
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

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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.

Notes:

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.

Comments

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.

Posted by: Jessica - Byron
on: 2018-05-02 15:27:38

Yes, millions of the leaves of these carpeting Oxbow Park right now as well, but most are non-flowering. However, found a few solitary blooms here and there along Zumbro and Maple Trails, and a nicely sized patch of all flowering ones on a western-facing slope along Yeager Trail.

Posted by: Beth - Henderson
on: 2018-05-06 21:32:05

I have one flower bed full of these are they are so pretty for w few weeks in the early spring. Last year was my first spring in this house and I had never seen these plants before.

Posted by: Deb - Coon Rapids
on: 2018-05-13 10:18:43

Just came across a patch of these yesterday blooming along a trail by Cenaiko Lake in Coon Rapids. I'd never seen this flower before - lovely!

Posted by: Donna Aasness - Mille Lacs
on: 2018-05-25 10:54:14

There were many blooming along the south shore this past week, beautiful! I had never seen them before.

Posted by: Alan Straka - cascade township
on: 2019-04-21 14:14:58

A large patch of these suddenly appeared in my lawn a few years ago. I have no idea how they came to be there. There were no flowers the first few years but the leaves are unmistakable. Last year a few white flowers appeared. I am hoping for more this year.

Posted by: Linda Liestman - Paynesville
on: 2019-05-05 17:56:07

I have a small colony of white Trout Lillies near Paynesville. However, on May 5th, 2019 we visited MacDougal Farm between Royalton and Bowlus. The Trout Lillies there are amazingly prolific, as are wild ginger and spring beauty. It is still a bit early this year. One more week will make a difference on the development of the plants his year. One must step carefully. Trout Lillies are blooming profusely on the low areas, and on top of the hills will bloom in a week from now. This is what a forest should look like. Such an amazing place.

Posted by: Patricia Ann Joyce - Rochester-SW
on: 2019-05-11 14:22:38

Spotted these along the City trails along the Zumbro River South Fork.They appeared about 2 weeks ago and are carpeting the forest floor here. Do they have any folklore connected to them? We just moved here from the Adirondacks in NE NYS and are getting acquainted with all the "prairie plants."

Posted by: Diane Hahn - Sunrise
on: 2020-04-25 23:02:05

Took a walk out on back of our property and found dozens of the beautiful flowers blooming in a grassy area.

Posted by: Tina Albrecht - Mankato- Blue Earth Co
on: 2020-05-02 22:24:09

Saw several of these today on the edge of the woods in town near my house. They were not blooming but the leaves were so unique I had to look it up.

Posted by: Ron Johannsen - Trenton Lake
on: 2020-05-05 14:49:25

Millions out this year, it was a damp Fall so may have good conditions for growth.

Posted by: NANCY STEPHENSON - Brook Park, Pine County, Mn.
on: 2020-05-05 22:52:34

These grow in our woods, and are a welcome sign of spring each year. They are even spreading into the shady parts of the lawn. Some bloom and some don't. Some have popped up by our front yard tree and are flowering this year, possibly traveling by seed? I love watching for them and photographing them each year.

Posted by: M.Rosier - Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park
on: 2020-05-09 19:35:01

Hundreds of trout lilies are in bloom now along the hiking club trail

Posted by: D Smith - Crow wing county
on: 2020-05-16 16:05:03

We have a bunch of the leaves only in our backyard. They seem to have overtaken the grass. I didn’t know they bloomed until I saw some in our woods.

Posted by: Laurie Ollhoff - Farmington
on: 2020-05-27 10:22:40

These flowers appeared in my front garden a few years back. Now I have a rather large section of them. I really like that they sprout early and that the bees seem to like them. They are beautiful.

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