Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trillium cuneatum (Little Sweet Betsy)

March 17th. 2012. Last year, in June, we visited the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest in the Oconee National Forest near a swamp on Sandy Creek and found a number of interesting plants. Among them was a trillium that had developed seeds. We decided that we wanted to revisit this area earlier in the Spring to look for trilliums in bloom. We’d checked the location a couple of times but didn’t find any. Last Saturday, however, was different.

We drove along the road that parallels a swamp along the creek. We weren’t overly hopeful but then I spotted one on the bank above the road. And it was blooming

Trillium cuneatum (Little Sweet Betsy). I clambered up the slope – no mean feat – over a carpet of loose leave and managed to settle next the plant without slipping down the slope again. (It’s been known to happen)

A closer view of the leaves and bloom. This is a relatively young plant, and…

of the flower. This flower is fully opened. The bracts are folded back against the leaves and the petals have opened as far as they will. The stamen are visible between the petals. These maroon/gold stamen are characteristic of this species.

While I was up on the slope, W was looking around on the other side of the road. He spotted..

this cluster of older plants. They blended into their background so well that he had to point them out to me. These plants were…

still in the budding stage.

A close view of the bud.

We wandered along the road to where we saw the trillium last year. Behind a tree not far from the road, W found this…

cluster of plants in various stages of blooming. This was the largest stand of trilliums that we found here.

This bud is just opening

The bracts are partially folded back

The bracts have folded back fully and the petals have opened

A close view of the maroon/gold stamen that are characteristic of this species

We were excited to find these plants. We found many more on both sides of the road in this small, shaded area where a small stream empties into the swamp.
This find was well worth the wait!

Trillium cuneatum
is known by the common names Little Sweet Betsy, Purple Toadshade, Whippoorwill Flower, and Large Toadshade. It is stalked, had mottled leaves and erect flowers that are purple to brown. The anthers and stamen are a characteristic maroon and gold. Trillums are found in Asia and North America. This species is found in the eastern United States from Pennsylvania and Illinois south and southeast to Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Trillium cuneatum (Little Sweet Betsy)

- Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Trillium cuneatum (Little Sweet Betsy, Purple Toadshade, Whippoorwill Flower)


- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Trillium cuneatum

- USDA Plants Database: Trillium cuneatum (Little Sweet Betsy)

Related Posts
- Plants We Find In The Woods At Dusk

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

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