Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

In rich moist woods in early March, a tiny lily only six to ten inches tall can be found in the Piedmont and mountainous regions of Alabama. This beautiful member of the Lily Family has many common names, including Trout Lily, and Dog-tooth Violet.

The Trout Lily is pollinated by ants, and after a seed is planted, it will take up to seven years to make a mature plant. Only plants that have two leaves will flower.

The mature plant has two mottled basal leaves, and a small lily nodding from the top of a leafless stem (scape). The lily is yellow, with three sepals and three petals (six tepals). The sepals are yellow on the inside and purplish brown on the back. The petals are entirely yellow. The lily opens each morning and closes each night, but during the middle of a bright day the tepals open so far that they are all curved backwards (reflexed).

The plant grows from a deep rootstock or corm which is three to five inches underground, and it often spreads from offshoots of this corm, thus creating colonies of trout lilies. They grow best in a deciduous woodland environment where they receive filtered light in the spring. They prefer a humus rich soil.