ORRIN MORRIS: Yellow trillium worth waiting for until spring

YELLOW TRILLIUM Trillium luteum

YELLOW TRILLIUM Trillium luteum

Fighting weeds in the lawn and garden can seem endless, thus discouraging us from persevering. Likewise, if we neglect to maintain a positive attitude, we can allow the consequences of floods and droughts, the economic ups and downs, the chaos in the Middle East and Africa, and global warming to discourage us.

Psalm 27 urges us to be patient, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart …” (Psalm 27:14).

“Wait on the Lord” is very important counsel. As spring approaches, we can be sure He will bless us with simple but profound beauty that costs us nothing. There will soon be 150 or more species of wildflowers to grace our environment in the next few months. One of those is our focus for today.


Trillium luteum

Trilliums are in the lily family, a very large family that includes wild onion, day lily, Solomon’s seal, star-of-Bethlehem, and blazing star. There are many varieties of trillium, of which about 25 are within a 200 mile radius of Atlanta.

The yellow trillium is one of the less common varieties in our immediate area. Its favorite habitat is in hardwoods (deciduous trees) on limestone soils; however, it grows well in other soils with pH above seven, that is, in rich alkaline soils. As with all trilliums, it has three leaves, three sepals, three petals, six stamens, and one pistil.

The yellow trillium is as unique in appearance as its name implies. Most trilliums are white, deep red, or brownish-maroon. The more popular varieties have three pointed petals that spread laterally, making them easy to see.

That is not the case with the yellow trillium. Its petals are thin and erect, and remain so until fertilization is complete. About one-third of the varieties of trillium in this area have upright blooms but are less showy and thus harder to notice.

Another characteristic of trilliums with upright petals is the mottled leaves as illustrated. The yellow trillium has a lighter green hue to its stem than the other varieties with mottled leaves. In fact, a clue that aids the true trillium hunter to identify varieties when the plants are not in bloom is the color of the stem. Those trilliums with deep red, maroon and brown blossoms have very dark greenish-red or brown stems.

The final defining characteristic of the yellow trillium’s flower is its lemon scent. Remember our verse for today, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart …” This wildflower is definitely worth waiting for.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.