Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout Lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: Yellow Adder's-tongue, Dogtooth Violet
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist rich woods, thickets, along streams
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
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 flower] A single, nodding flower at the end of a stiff naked stalk 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) long. Flowers have 6 lance-elliptic tepals (3 petals and 3 similar sepals) ¾ to 1 1/3 inch (20 to 33 mm) long, yellow sometimes tinged purplish on the outer surface and/or have reddish dots in the throat. There are 6 long stamens in the center, usually with deep rusty red tips (anthers), or sometimes yellow. Flowers open in the morning, the tepals flaring out and back, and close up at night.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal, flowering plants with a pair of leaves and non-flowering plants with one. Leaves are lance-elliptic to oval to egg-shaped, 3 to 9 inches (to 23 cm) long, to 2 inches wide, toothless, hairless, tapering at both ends, on a slender stalk that arises from an underground bulb, most bulbs not producing flowers. Color is waxy blue-green irregularly mottled with purplish brown, the mottling typically fading with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a capsule, oval to inverted egg-shaped, rounded at the tip end, about ½ inch (12 to 15 mm) long at maturity, usually held erect. Reproduction by non-flowering plants is via stolons (horizontal stems), that are buried just below the surface and form a new bulb at the end, from which a new shoot emerges the following year.


Leaves are very similar to Minnesota's other two Trout Lilies (E. albidum and E. propullans) though some of the images here were taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis, where both leaves with pale green mottling and flowers with yellow anthers were on display (the source of these plants is not known). Like the other Trout Lily species, the yellow is most common in rich woods and on flood plains, the leaves appearing by early April and completely gone by June, and can form large colonies. There are 2 recognized subspecies in North America: subsp. harperi, which has a limited range in a few southeastern states, has a minute point at the tip of a capsule; subsp. americanum has the rounded capsule described here and is found from the easternmost counties of Minnesota eastward and as far south as northern Alabama.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Winona County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis and in Pine County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Heather - Deerwood, MN
on: 2010-04-17 15:10:50

Found one in the woods about 15 feet off the dirt road in Deerwood, MN.

Posted by: Terra - Northern Rice County
on: 2013-04-29 13:00:53

I seem to have these all over the edges of our yard! We just moved in the winter and now that the snow is gone, the muddy areas, near the woods, is blanketed with what looks like these lilies... sprouts of purple and green leaves everywhere. Can a person plant grass seed amongst these? I'm sure the flowers are nice, but we would honestly rather have grass. Thanks in advance for any help on the matter!

Posted by: Brenda - Houston County
on: 2016-04-30 15:07:26

A nice burst of color on a gray day. These lilies are along the wood and pasture line. This is my first citing of them.

Posted by: Don - Pine County. woods at site of Chengwatana city
on: 2016-05-04 23:50:13

Good population at the East end of woodlands on the site of the 1800's city of Chengwatana along the Snake River.

Posted by: Chris - Minnesota River valley
on: 2017-04-24 16:16:25

What I had assumed would be E. albidum at a wildflower site in the MN River valley appears to be rather E. americanum, with a few yellow blooms just beginning to open at this time.

Posted by: Timothy J - Banfill Island one the Mississippi River, Hennepin County
on: 2017-09-30 08:44:07

Small colony seen in the midst of huge colonies of Dutchman's Breeches on an elevation that floods only occasionally in the spring.

Posted by: John Lawrey - Bay Lake Township Crow Wing County
on: 2020-05-16 15:08:46

Seen blooming in the woods behind the cabin.

Posted by: Elaine Erickson - south part of Cook County
on: 2020-05-23 09:56:08

Huge beautiful area next to quiet stream.

Posted by: Eva McDonald - Austin
on: 2021-04-18 21:30:03

Found some at Beaver Creek Valley State park today. April 18.

Posted by: Olga Zenteno - St Cloud MN
on: 2021-04-30 11:14:46

I have the leaves of this plant growing in my backyard woods - no blooms yet. Second year of seeing the leaves.

Posted by: Sherman - in Duluth, in the woods near the creek and in my yard.
on: 2022-06-29 09:55:54

There are thousands of Yellow Trout Lilies throughout the woods in my neighborhood near Chester Creek, and a large number are in the woods towards the south end of my yard that's not far from the creek.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.