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Trout Lily

Scientific name: Erythronium americanum

This native plant appears in woodlands in early spring. They grow in large colonies which can be up to thirty years old! To find them, you must look down in the leaf litter, as these plants are just 4-8 inches tall.

You might wonder how the trout lily got its name. The spotted green and brown leaves are reminiscent of the colors of a brook trout! A member of the lily family, it is a bulbed plant and has yellow trumpet-shaped flowers which may bloom in April. Interestingly, only a small percentage of these plants flower. Those that do have been pollinated by ants.

A spring ephemeral, it appears for only a short period of time before going dormant.


The leaves are lance-shaped and wider towards the middle. They are a mottled green and brown color.


Yellow and trumpet- shaped, they bloom in April, before the trees above leaf out.


They seem to particularly like damp areas of woodlands near streams and wetlands. But they might be found in any woodland area.

Human Connections

The Cherokee used this plant medicinally to treat injuries.

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