Tuesday, April 02, 2019

New white trilliums

Spring. There are flowers everywhere, yellow, pink, purple. Under the trees in the shady woods at Kitty Coleman Park, a short drive south of here, white trilliums were joining in.

Trillium ovatum, the Western trillium. White when they're new, turning pink as they age.

Most were still barely open.

Fully open, these will spread the three petals almost flat.

This is an "ant plant". My guide book, Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Mackinnon and Pojar), explains:

"Each seed has a little, oil-rich appendage that is attractive to ants.The ants lug the seeds back to their nests, where they eat the appendages or feed them to the larvae and then discard the remaining seeds on their rubbish piles. This is a reasonably effective mechanism for seed dispersal, especially for plants of the dim, becalmed forest floor. Ants disperse up to 30% of the spring-flowering, herbaceous species in the deciduous forests of eastern North America. Our forest flora is less dependent, but we do have several spring-flowering "ant plants", including bleeding heart, inside-out flower and wild ginger, as well as trilliums."

The Kitty Coleman forest is mostly evergreen; cedar, hemlock, old-growth Douglas fir, and sword fern, with a few red alders to provide more shade in the summertime. I didn't see any ants.


  1. How interesting. I am reading "The Trees in My Forest" by Bernd Heinrich and I just read the chapter on how different trees and plants disperse their seeds. - Margy

    1. I looked up that book and read a page. Looks good! I've bought myself a copy. Thanks for the hint!


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