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White Trillium

Posted by Tammy Sons on

The Trillium grandiflorum is more commonly refereed to as the white trillium, great white trillium, and white wake-robin is a perennial of the lily family. It's native habitat is North America from northern Quebec to the southern parts of the United States through the Appalachian Mountains into northern part of Georgia and westward to Minnesota. The white trillium is easy to spot with it's attractive three-petaled white flowers, opening from the late spring to the early summer.

Ecologists have extensively studied the white trillium due to a number of unique features it possesses. It is representative of a plant who propagates through myrmecohory. What is myrmecohory? It simply means that it's seeds are dispersed by ants. The plant produces a seed with food bodies that is rich in lipids, amino acid and other nutrients that are desirable by ants. Seed dispersal by ants is accomplished when the worker ant carries the seed back to the ant colony after which the 'good stuff' is removed or fed directly to ant larvae. After this the seed is usually discarded in underground middens (an underground dump for domestic waste) or ejected from the nest.
Some species have pink instead of white petals, others extra petals, also known as 'double' forms, are naturally quite common in the species. As a matter of record, the species is the most popular of its genus cultivation, which has led to conservation concerns due to the majority commercially available plants being collected from the wild. As the plant is attractive and well known, it serves as the provincial emblem of Ontario, the state wildflower of Ohio and is often used in heraldry in Canada.

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