trillium

It is likely that Trillium ovatum, otherwise known as Wake Robin, is the most familiar floral sight in our woods and forests.

As its common name suggests, it is one of the earliest blooming of our native flowers, a herald of spring. There are a few species of Trillium native to our area, part of a group of hundreds of species worldwide.

Whatever the color or size, they are recognizable by the collar of whorled leaves held above a bare stem, holding a single flower. Spreading by rhizomes, Trilliums will, if left undisturbed, form a colony and carpet the woodland floor in early spring.

They can also be propagated by seed, a much slower process. In nature a sort of back-up system is in place with the cooperation of mice and ants, to help spread the seeds; ants especially are attracted by a protein-rich fleshy attachment to the seed called an elaiosome. They carry the seeds back to their nest, consume the desired part and then discard the seed itself, which in turn eventually germinates having been conveniently “planted” in the ground in an organically rich environment.

trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

This is the flower that comes to mind when one hears the name “Trillium.” Mistakenly thought by many to be Oregon’s state flower by virtue of its abundance, its pure, bright white flower held above the triumvirate of bright green leaves is a welcome sight in the woods as well as the woodland garden.

Shade to partial shade, organically rich and well-drained soil; regular water in the spring (which usually happens automatically in the Pacific NW), little or no water in the summer when the plant has died back and gone dormant for the season. The white flower gradually turns to purple as it ages.

trillium chloropetalum

Trillium chloropetalum

The leaves are slightly mottled with reddish-brown.  The flower is held more stiffly erect above the leaves and can range in color from red through greenish yellow to white. Leaves and flowers are both larger than Trillium ovatum, hence the common name Giant Trillium.

trillium kurabayashii

Trillium kurabayashii

Large Purple Wake Robin is a rare one.  Found only in isolated colonies in Northern California and into the farthest SW corner of Oregon, the large leaves are distinctly mottled with dark green and are large and slightly ruffled when mature. The flower parts are held upright, perpendicular to the leaves, and generally of a deep, rich reddish purple in color. (photo credit to Paul Schlicter)

Needing perhaps a little more sheltered area than Trillium ovatum, it is still quite garden-worthy. Propagated by seed by growers allowed to sustainably collect the seed from the wild, the care and length of time it takes to grow these plants to retail ready size and condition in part explains their price.

Find Natives for your garden

We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.

Natives

Abies: Native Fir

Natives

Acer Circinatum: Vine Maple

Natives

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Natives

Attracting Butterflies

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Natives

Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Natives

Edible Fruits

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Natives

Native Ferns

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Natives

Attracting Hummingbirds

Natives

Native Iris

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Malus fusca

Western Crabapple
Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Natives

Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Natives

Pinus: Native Pine

Natives

Quercus: Garry Oak

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Natives

Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Natives

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Sedum: Stonecrop

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Natives

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Natives

Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush
Natives

Viola: Violet

Natives

Winter Interest