Red trillium

Trillium erectum

''Trillium erectum'', also known as wake-robin, red trillium, purple trillium, Beth root, or stinking Benjamin, is a species of flowering plant native to the east and north-east of North America. It is a Spring ephemeral, an herbaceous perennial whose life-cycle is synchronised with that of the deciduous forests where it lives.


This plant grows to about 40 cm in height with a spread of 30 cm , and can tolerate extreme cold in winter, surviving temperatures down to −35 °C . Like all trilliums, its parts are in groups of three, with 3-petalled flowers above whorls of pointed triple leaves. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals and crystal raphide, and should not be consumed by humans. The flowers are a deep red colour, though there is a white form. The flowers have the smell of rotting meat, as they are pollinated by flies.

The plant takes its name "wake-robin" by analogy with the Robin, which has a red breast heralding spring.

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

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