Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Plant of the Week: Snow Trillium (Trillium nivale)

The smallest and earliest flowering of all the Trillum or Wake Robins, the snow trillium, is considered rare throughout much of its range.  It is a diminutive little gem that can be challenging to find in the nursery trade, but it is available from several specialty nurseries and it can be expensive.  This species loves limestone soils and reaches a total height of 2 - 4" tall.  It typically flowers in March in Kentucky and is one of the early, showy spring ephemeral wildflowers.  It reproduces from seed, but most often via underground rhizomes.  Thus when you typically find this species in the wild it is often observed in a large colony.  The seeds are dispersed by ants and it takes up to 4 years to grow this from seed (which is why it is so expensive in the trade). This is a long lived species and individual plants can live for more than 8 years, and usually much, much longer giving rise to large colonies.  Unlike other shade or woodland garden plants, this species does not like heavy leaf mulch and so in the garden it should be planted in good loamy, fertile limestone soil where it gets filtered sunlight but where the leaf litter doesn't accumulate. Another unique feature is that this species doesn't appear to like competition and hence it should be planted in an area that will not be over-taken by other woodland species like wood poppies, bluebells, asters, etc.   This is an easy trillium to identify because it flowers earlier than all the other trilliums, is small growing to 4" in height, has a single stem that produces a single flower with 2" long petals and sepals and is usually white to off-white in coloration and the leaves often have a grayish tint to them.  Like other trilliums, deer love these plants and they should be protected if you have deer present in the surrounding area.  Because this plant is so uncommon in nature and is endangered in Kentucky, do not dig plants from the wild and purchase only nursery propagated, not nursery grown, plants from reputable nurseries.  Even though this species doesn't like competition, you can put some companion plants next to areas where your colonies develop and a couple of these are quite showy as well and include hepatica and rue anenome.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all these marvelous photos and the information Tom. I appreciate it so much and am learning a lot from you. Your books are so helpful too.