The Western Trillium’s dinner-plate diameter showcases one solitary

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Since ancient times, poetry, literature and mythology have been infused with references to white lilies

“Easter morn with lilies fair

Fills the church with perfumes rare.”

(Louise L. Matthews)

 

Since ancient times, poetry, literature and mythology have been infused with references to white lilies.

The stunning petals symbolize life, purity, and hope – Easter’s spiritual essence – while the bending golden anthers flood surroundings with sunshine.

So while florist shops brim with lilies of every stripe and hue, Mother Earth did it first, still does it best…and all for free.

On Vancouver Island, April’s wild woodlands have burst into bloom with showy Western Trilliums (Trillium ovatum) –of the lily family. A large and majestic plant, which can rise to 20-45 cm (8-20”) in height, the trillium boasts one solitary three-petalled white flower that ages to a regal magenta.

Trillium derives from the Latin for three; the plant bears leaves, petals and sepals in whorls of three, reason enough for its nickname Trinity flower. Likewise, the Latin species name ovatum refers to the trio of egg-shaped leaves.

Trilliums and ants wouldn’t normally be mentioned in the same breath, yet ants play an important role in helping trilliums proliferate across the forest floor. The flowers attract ants with their perfume, and ants then carry away the nutritious seed, to eat the oil organ containing unsaturated fatty acids. This arrangement works wonderfully well for plant and insect.

Trilliums prefer semi-shade and tend to have wet feet so look for these glorious beauties in moist forests, seepage areas or alongside streambanks and riversides.

At this time of year, fawn lilies, both white and pink, often grow alongside trilliums. This spectacular springtime species can form carpets in shaded woodlands where soil conditions are optimum.

White fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum), while smaller than the trillium, are nevertheless great natural beauties, with six striking white petals curved upwards, and six golden stamens dangling like shiny bells.

Celebrate nature’s gift of wild lilies, now in full bloom alongside most nature trails. Campbell River area: Campbell and Quinsam River trails, Beaver Lodge Forest Lands, Simms, Willow and Nunns Creeks. Courtenay area: Puntledge River and Nymph Falls trails.

E-mail wilderness@shaw.ca.

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