Sunday, March 18, 2012

Have you ever seen a Trout Lily?

   They are definitely worth seeing, if you can find them! This diminutive native wildflower, also known as Yellow Adder's Tongue, is blooming right now in our woods. Although Erythronium americanum is native to much of the country east of the Mississippi and considered quite common, I wouldn't be surprised if you've never seen it in bloom, if at all. The Yellow Trout Lily is quite small, reaching the average height of only 6 inches, and the yellow blossoms don't exactly stand out against the tan and brown leaf litter on the forest floor.

It's much easier to spot the 4-8" spotted green lanceolate leaves, which resemble orchid leaves or a Spotted Trout, hence the name.

Supposedly it prefers moist rich woods, however I know of it occurring (particularly here) in quite dry, well drained soils as well. It just doesn't form huge colonies like it might in richer soils.

Don't feel bad if you've never noticed them before. As you can tell by this photo, although this trail has Trout Lilies lining both sides, they are definitely difficult to see!

*Thank you Jeff for the photos!*


  1. Yes, we have them too and they are always a delight. That first picture is especially spectacular - great job, Jeff!

  2. I have never caught them with their blooms on! Just the distinctive leaf. Great catch!

  3. ...why no. Have you ever seen a Mahi Mahi Coreopsis? Very rare indeed.

  4. Thanks everybody!

    No, Jeff, I've never seen a Mahi Mahi Coreopsis...and I suppose you have?

  5. Jeff is way more cosmopolitan than I gave him credit for!

  6. Love Trout Lilies. We actually have 3 species in MN including an endangered one called the Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily.