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Nodding Trillium
Trillium rugelii

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Nodding TrilliumNodding Trillium closeup

Nodding Trillium is definitely uncommon. I included two pictures so you could see two identifying factors: the details of the flower, plus the flower's characteristic of hanging below the leaves. The leaves and flowers are large - as big as the Large-Flowered Trillium.Flowers can be 3" across, and leaves can be 10-12" long, 8-10" wide. Nodding Trillium could be mistaken for Large-Flowered, except that 1) Large-Flowered Trillium holds its blooms definitely erect above the leaves, while Nodding is definitely below the leaves, and 2) the center of a Large-Flowered Trillium is yellow, while the Nodding has purple pistil and stamens. Consider yourself lucky if you see them. Look for very rich, non-acidic open hardwood forest at about 3000 feet.

Note: In recent years, Nodding Trillium has been separated into two distinct species. The name Trillium cernuum is found in most common wildflower guide books and formerly  referred to all Nodding Trilliums.  Here in the south,  Trillium rugelii applies to the species pictured above. The accepted dividing line is the New River, which cuts through the Appalachians approximately near Roanoke Virginia. Thanks to my friends at the Georgia Botanical Society, who know Trilliums a lot better than I do.

A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
986 Reems Creek Road
Weaverville NC 28787


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