Trillium Trio


April is the peak of wildflower bloom where I live. The earliest spring ephemerals have already come and gone, braving late snows and bitter winds. They have been replaced with a steady succession now at its riotous peak, with dozens of species forming a colorful display as varied and beautiful as any cultivated garden.

There is an urgency to their lives, racing to compete with the rapidly unfolding leaves above them. I haven’t yet seen a 100-foot tall wildflower, and their diminutive size gives them a disadvantage in catching the sunlight. But over many generations these forest flowers have triumphed, evolving greater diversity here in the southeast United States than any other temperate forests except China. There are more species of Trillium here than anywhere else on earth.

It is said that good things come in threes. Trilliums seem to illustrate this, with three petals above three sepals and three leaves. In this park near my home, the ground was literally covered with thousands of Trillium. I photographed this single flower to accentuate its elegance. The sun was creating shadows on the lower petal, and illuminated the veins of a leaf beyond. The delicate beauty of these flowers will fill the woods for a week or two, and then vanish just as suddenly. The rapidly changing cast of woodland flower characters is a botanical play, and I will continue to enjoy their drama until shade draws the curtain on their performance for this year.