Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

White Trout Lily usually blooms a little earlier than other spring wildflowers in woodlands; this blooming period is short, and immature plants that don't bloom always outnumber mature plants. Both the flowers and foliage are attractive (especially if the latter is mottled). The other Trout Lilies in Illinois are less common; they include Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout Lily) and Erythronium mesochoreum (Prairie Trout Lily). Yellow Trout Lily has yellow flowers and the lobes of its stigmas are united, rather than spreading. Prairie Trout Lily resembles a White Trout Lily with unmottled foliage. However, it produces a larger seed capsule (about 1" long) that nods downward from its stalk, sometimes touching the ground. White Trout Lily has a smaller seed capsule (about ¾" long) that remains more or less erect on its stalk. The flowers of Prairie Trout Lily are light blue-violet more often than those of White Trout Lily, and its basal leaves tend to be less broad and more strongly folded upward along their mid-veins.
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Description

This native perennial plant is about 4-6" tall, consisting of 1-2 basal leaves and a flowering stalk with a single flower. Immature plants produce a single leaf and fail to flower, while mature plants that bloom produce a pair of leaves. The basal leaves are up to 6" long and 2" across. They are lanceolate or narrowly ovate, smooth along the margins, and either solid green or a mottled combination of pale green and greyish green. The leaves may fold upward slightly along the mid-vein, or they remain flat. The surface of each leaf is glabrous and waxy. A naked flowering stalk develops between the basal leaves of mature plants. This stalk is light green to reddish brown, glabrous, and nods downward at its apex, where the flower occurs. Each nodding flower is about 1½" long and across; it consists of 6 white tepals, 6 stamens with long yellow anthers, and a slender style with a stigma that has 3 lobes that spread outward. The tepals are linear-lanceolate and strongly recurved, while the stamens and style are exerted. The blooming period occurs during mid-spring and lasts about 2 weeks. Each fertilized flower is replaced by a 3-chambered seed capsule that is ovoid and about ¾" long. Each chamber of the seed capsule contains 2 rows of flattened seeds. The root system consists of a corm that is several inches below the surface of the ground; this corm produces fibrous roots at its base and occasionally sends out underground stolons that can form new plants a few inches away from the mother plant. White Trout Lily can produce large colonies of plants if it is left undisturbed for several decades.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

White Trout Lily is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois, except for Jo Davies county in the extreme NW corner of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include moist to mesic deciduous woodlands and gentle slopes in wooded areas. An abundance of this plant indicates that a woodlands has never been subjected to the plow or bulldozed over. White Trout Lily is one of the spring wildflowers that is threatened by the spread of Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) in wooded areas.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Erythronium albidum Nutt.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Ont.; Ala., Ark., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Md., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va., Wis.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Bulbs ovoid, 15–30 mm; stolons 1–3, mostly on 1-leaved, nonflowering plants; flowering plants reproducing vegetatively by offshoots or droppers. Leaves 8–22 cm; blade green, irregularly mottled, elliptic-lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate or elliptic, ± flat, glaucous, margins entire. Scape 7–20 cm. Inflorescences 1-flowered. Flowers: tepals strongly reflexed at anthesis, white, tinged pink, blue, or lavender abaxially, with yellow adaxial spot at base, lanceolate, 22–40 mm, auricles absent; stamens 10–20 mm; filaments yellow, lanceolate; anthers yellow; pollen yellow; style white, 15–25 mm; stigma lobes recurving, 1.5 mm. Capsules held erect at maturity, obovoid, 10–22 mm, apex rounded to faintly apiculate or umbilicate. 2n = 44.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

White Trout Lily is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois, except for Jo Davies county in the extreme NW corner of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include moist to mesic deciduous woodlands and gentle slopes in wooded areas. An abundance of this plant indicates that a woodlands has never been subjected to the plow or bulldozed over. White Trout Lily is one of the spring wildflowers that is threatened by the spread of Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) in wooded areas.
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Mesic bottomlands, upland forests, woodlands, clay and silt bottomlands, floodplain forests; 0--300m.
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of White Trout Lily in Illinois

Erythronium albidum (White Trout Lily)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen; flies suck nectar or feed on pollen; other insects suck nectar; some flies and plant bugs are non-pollinating as indicated below; some observations are from Graenicher and Schemske et al. as indicated below, otherwise they are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq (Rb, Shm); Apidae (Bombini): Bombus impatiens sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn (Rb, Gr); Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia belfragii sn fq; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada dentariae sn, Nomada luteola sn, Nomada sulphurata sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia bucephala bucephala sn, Osmia collinsiae sn, Osmia liganaria lignaria sn fq, Osmia pumila sn fq (Rb, Gr)

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella striata sn (Gr), Halictus confusus sn, Halictus rubicunda sn, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis sn fq; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini sn cp fq (Rb, Shm), Andrena erigeniae sn (Shm), Andrena erythronii sn cp fq olg (Rb, Shm), Andrena forbesii (Shm), Andrena mariae sn, Andrena nasonii (Shm), Andrena sayi sn cp, Andrena vicina sn cp (Gr)

Flies
Syrphidae: Brachypalpus oarus fp np, Eristalis dimidiatus sn; Bombyliidae: Bombylius major sn; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina fp np

Butterflies
Pieridae: Colias philodice sn, Pieris rapae sn

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Erynnis juvenalis sn

Plant Bugs
Lygaeidae: Lygaeus turcicus sn np

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Faunal Associations

The flowers are primarily pollinated by both long-tongued and short-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, Little Carpenter bees, Mason bees, Cuckoo bees (Nomadine), Miner bees, Halictid bees, Plasterer bees, and Andrenid bees. The bees suck nectar from the flowers; honeybees and short-tongued bees also collect pollen. An oligolectic bee of Erythronium spp. (Trout Lilies) is Andrena erythronii (Trout Lily Bee). Other insects visiting the flowers for nectar include Bombylius major (Giant Bee Fly), butterflies, and skippers; the latter two groups of insects are less common visitors. Trout Lilies are occasionally eaten by White-Tailed Deer, but the damage is usually minor because of the low stature and ephemeral nature of the foliage.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Erythronium albidum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Erythronium albidum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is dappled sunlight during the spring, moist to mesic conditions, and a rich loamy soil with abundant leaf mould. Shadier conditions are tolerated later in the year. The foliage withers away during the summer. It takes several years for a new plant to fully develop and bloom. Corms can be transplanted successfully during the fall, while the establishment of new plants from seeds is difficult and slow.
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Wikipedia

Erythronium albidum

Erythronium albidum (White Fawnlily or White Trout Lily) is a small herbaceous flowering plant in the Liliaceae, native to eastern North America, from southern Quebec and southern Manitoba south to Georgia and Texas.

It produces short, slender stems 10–15 cm tall, which bear two oblong leaves on each stem. The leaves are lanceolate, 8–16 cm long and 3–4 cm broad, dark green and covered with a mottled pattern of purple blotches. At the end of the stem, the plant produces a white, lily-like flower 3–4 cm diameter, with six yellow stamens. The flowers are bent downward, and elongate with age. It blooms in mid to late spring.

The plant is mostly found in large groups on the forest floor, often in areas following ground disturbance. Its preferred growing conditions are in part sun to mostly shade and deep, moist loamy soils.

It is also known as Adder's Tongue, Dog's-tooth Violet, Serpent's Tongue, Trout Lily, Deer Tongue, and Yellow Snowdrop.

Folklore and uses[edit]

European settlers considered it to have similar properties to Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale), and White Fawnlily was often used as a substitute for it. The plant was listed in the Pharmacopoeia of the United States from 1820-1863 as a treatment for gout.

Some believe that wounds will be healed if the plant is soaked in cold water, then removed and wrapped it in cloth and applied to a wound or bruise. It is left there until the bundle is warm, and then removed and buried in a muddy place.

Little is known of the constituents, because little research has been done. It is known to contain alpha-methylenebutyrolactone. The plant is emetic, emollient, and antiscorbutic when fresh. It is nutritive when dry.

Certain groups of American Indians used it for its emetic and contraceptive properties. The Onondaga women used the leaves as a temporary birth control method in the spring, to avoid giving birth in the most frigid part of winter.

The leaves can be collected anytime, but the bulb enlarges throughout the summer and can be divided in the fall. At that time of year, the bulb is also edible. The fresh leaves are mostly used in the form of a stimulating poultice, applied to swellings, tumors and scrofulous ulcers.

When made into a tea with horsetail (Equisetum hyemale), it is claimed to be good for bleeding or ulcers of bowels, or for tumors and inflammation of the bowels. It has been used as a quick relief for nose bleeds and sore eyes. The fresh roots or leaves are simmered in milk; or the juice of the plant infused in apple cider; and these treatments are used for dropsy, hiccups, vomiting and bleeding of the bowels. Misuse may cause nausea or even vomiting.

Christian mythology told the lily sprang from the tears of Eve when she found motherhood was near.

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Notes

Comments

Erythronium albidum often forms extensive colonies in which nonflowering, 1-leaved plants far outnumber flowering, 2-leaved ones. It is very widespread in eastern North America, more common in the central states than E. americanum and often occurs in slightly drier sites.
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