POISONOUS PARTS: Berries and roots. Only low toxicity if eaten. Toxic Principle: Toxicity unknown, but caution because of its relationship with known toxic plants. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Maroon, red or purple, the flowers are foul scented. Carrion flies pollinate the flowers attracted by the foul odor.
A whorl of three very wide diamond-shaped leaves almost touch each other, and are up to 7.5 cm wide dark green with netted veins.
The fruit are three lobed berries. (Dickinson et al, Wildflowers, Ont, ROM)
They are threatened in many places.
Early herbalists used this ill scented plant to treat gangrene, since, according to the Doctrine of Signatures, plants were used to cure the ailments they resembled. (Niering)
Habitat Information: A plant of deciduous or mixed wood forests and is native to north eastern North America. It is often thought that picking the plant will kill it; it may not but it could take 7 or 8 years for the plant to get to a large enough size again to produce a flower (Evergreen)
Garden Uses: Trillium can take up to 7 years to seed and grow into a new plant, and is difficult to raise in nursery conditions. Buyers should beware when buying this plant from nurseries, that it has not been dug from the wild, depleting natural populations. Make sure to buy from responsible growers. This plant requires suitable woodland habitat, with high organic content.
Propagation: Germination takes approx. 1-2 years (Evergreen). It takes a possible 4 to 5 years to flower after germinating, 7 to 10 in natural environment, although studies have shown only 20 out of 10,000 seeds planted in this manner do as well, with only 20% germinating after a year. (Case & Case, Trilliums, pp. 29-31, 46-52.)
Insect Relationships: This plant has a unique seed dispersal adaptation: the seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that produces a sticky sugary substance that attracts ants. The ants take the seed to their nests. (Evergreen)
Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses: Leaves edible raw or cooked, tasting like sunflower seeds. Can be used as potherb. Root has been used used to aid childbirth, to treat irregular menses and period pains. Modern research finds that plant contains saponins that have effect on hormones of the body. Herb should not be taken while pregnant unless under supervision of qualified professional. Root has been used to treat women's complaints, such as uterine haemorrhage, urinary tract and lung complaints, and excessive menstruation. Helps stop bleeding after birth. Used to treat vaginal discharge, ulcers, skin complaints, gangrene, insect bites and stings, and whole plant used for tumour, ulcers, inflammations. (Plants for a Future)
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