Trillium grandiflorum (Great white trillium, ininiiwindibiigegan)

Trillium grandiflorum

Zone: 4 to 8

Soil: sand to loam

Light: Part shade to full shade

Bloom colour: White and yellow

Bloom period: Mid-spring

Height: 15 inches

Moisture: Medium

Attracts: Bumblebees and ants

Notes: Great white trillium is another stunning woodland flower that is also the provincial flower of Ontario. It is found in the Eastern half of North America except in a few states. The large three petal flowers are striking and somewhat unusual looking. In the wild, they occur in drifts. Don't be tempted to dig up wild plants unless they are going to be destroyed by development. There are plenty of native plant nurseries selling this plant. However, the specimens shown here were dug up to save them from construction over 40 years ago. Great White Trillium will live for more than 50 years and will provide a lifetime of joy. They may take up to 10 years to start flowering so you need to be patient. It is a good idea to ask the nursery how old their specimens are. The short flowering period lasts about 2 weeks, which is typical of many woodland plants.

In the wild, you will see Trillium on well developed soils that are well drained. The soil in a garden does not have to be as rich, but it must drain freely. Trillium can grow in quite sandy soil but regular watering will be needed to stop the soil from completely drying out.

The leaves are large and grow in threes around the main stem so it is easily recognisable even when it is not in flower. When the plant does go dormant it is a good idea to mark its position as these plants resent disturbance. If given the chance, the rhizomes can spread to form new clonal plants.

It is thought that the plants are pollinated by bumblebees although I have never observed any pollinators on this plant. The seeds have elaiosomes like Bloodroot. These are fatty deposits that make them appetising to ants, which may then carry the seeds for several metres to their nest.

Great White Trillium is a fantastic plant to brighten up woodland gardens. Place it towards the front of the border and combine it with other woodland plants that flower at a similar time.

Trillium grandiflorum
Flower of trillium grandiflorum
Trillium grandiflorum
Flowers of Great White Trillium have six stamens and a central stigma
Each Trillium flower contains 6 stamens and central stigma.
Trillium grandiflorum flower
The flowers of Great White Trillium are borne above the leaves on stalk.