March 4th, 2013. Dimpled troutlillies (Erythronium umbilicatum) are among the earliest wildflowers in this area. We’ve found them at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain in DeKalb County at the Bradley Mountain trailhead and along the bank by the trail on the west side of Arabia Lake. The best concentration of plants we’ve found so far, however, has been in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Jones County, Georgia. We photographed them in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in 2011 but they didn’t bloom well last year.
It was getting a bit late but we drove down to the Piedmont NWR on the off-chance that they might be blooming again this year. In past years, we’d arrive at this spot later in the afternoon when it was cloudy or after the sun had dropped behind the trees to the west. This time, we reversed our route and arrived at the spot while the sun was still shining on the embankment where many plants bloom. We were in luck and just in time. We didn’t find any plants with buds; all flowers had opened.
We made our way along the embankment at the edge of the woods…
This year, we saw the anthers in different stages of development…
The anthers on these flowers, although pollen is still present, are beginning to dry out. The style and pink stigma are clearly visible in these images.
We also found that a couple of plants had well-developed seedpods. These seedpods were clearly ‘dimpled’, another indication that these are E. umbilicatum rather than E. americanum which does not have the dimpled tip.
There are two Erythronium species with yellow flowers that occur in Georgia: E. umbilicatum and E. americanum. At a casual glance, they appear identical but can be differentiated based on the color of the pollen and the shape of the seedpod.
Erythronium umbilicatum (Dimpled Troutlily) is native to the United States, being found from Maryland west to Kentucky, south to Georgia and Florida. In Georgia, it is found in counties in North Georgia and extending into some counties in the Upper Coastal Plain.
Both Erythronium species are distributed most densely in the southeastern states with E. americanum is distributed more widely than E. umbilicatum.
Jim Fowler recently published a post - Erythronium americanum (Trout lily, Dogtooth violet) — an early-blooming wildflower – that shows how similar the flowers of this species are to E. umbilicatum but also clearly shows the yellow pollen. Occasionally, according to Name that Plant, E. umbilicatum flowers may have yellow pollen leaving the dimple-shaped seedpods as the easiest observable characteristic to differentiate this species from E. americanum. Images in the Southeastern Flora sites include photographs of the seedpods of each of these species.
It was encouraging to see these lilies blooming again in this location and to see the dimpled seedpods that confirmed this identification.
Click on an image to view a larger image
- Erythronium umbilicatum (Dimpled Troutlily)
Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Erythronium umbilicatum (Dimpled Troutlily, Dogtoothed Violet)
United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: