Purple Prairie Trillium recurvatum
Bloody Butcher Plants
Easyliving Native Perennial Wildflowers
Native Wild Flower Seeds & Plants for Home Landscaping and Prairie Restoration
Photo by cj
|Habitat||Bloom Period||Color||Height Inches||Moisture||Plant Spacing||Lifespan|
|Shade to Part Sun||April, May, June||Maroon to Brown||12 to 18 inches||Average
|6" to 12"||Perennial|
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Purple Trillium seeds are not available.
Prairie Trillium recurvatum plants when available are $12 each plus boxing/UPS shipping.
(email for availability on plants)
Purple Trillium recurvatum, or Bloody Butcher, is a charming native woodland wildflower suitable for growing in shade gardens over most of the USA.
Plant Purple Trillium recurvatum in partial sun or open shade, and moderate moisture, in rich, loamy, sandy soil with ferns and other native woodland wildflowers like Columbine Green Dragon American Spikenard Jack-in-the-pulpit Goat's Beard Wild Ginger Wild Geranium Virginia Bluebells Woodland Phlox Jacob's Ladder Bloodroot Celandine Poppy Woodland Spiderwort White Trillium Blue Cohosh Black Cohosh Shooting Star Ginseng Christmas Fern Dutchman's Breeches
The delightfully unusual flowers of wild Purple Trillium
recurvatum are a
harbinger of spring, they bloom
in April & May and are found growing wild in the understory
of rich deciduous or mixed
coniferous-deciduous upland temperate forest
of the Midwest and Eastern
United States in
moist shade in roadsides, floodplains,
ravines, along bluffs, and along rocky slopes in woods.
Great white goes dormant with the heat of summer.
Latin tres for three and lilium for lily
recurvatum: Bent backwards
Trillium recurvatum seeds need cold-warm-cold stratified and germinate at 21 C. Plant seeds when ripe in early summer for germination the following spring.
have a single stem, a whorl of three leaves and a single flower with three
maroon or brown petals.
The spring-blooming flowers of
for 2–3 weeks in the early spring (late April to mid-May), before forest
canopy leaves appear, and are pollinated by bumblebees.
Trillium Plants can live
for 25 years or longer and usually do not flower until they are several years
old. Populations of Purple Trillium recurvatum expand slowly, wild
populations may be jeopardized in areas where they are heavily browsed by deer, plants will die out after several years of repeated browsing.
Purple Trilliums grow from an
underground rhizome, cultivation is slow requiring several years from seed to
flowering. Ants, flies and beetles pollinate trillium flowers and seeds
are dispersed over small distances often by ants.
Chipmunks that take the fruit also help disperse seeds. Trillium
seeds require consistently moist conditions to survive but can remain viable for
many years provided they are in moist soil. Gardening with trilliums
teaches the rewards of patience: after seeds germinate roots grow the first
year, a single seed leaf the second and the first true leaf the third year.
The familiar three-whorled leaves often do not develop until the forth or
fifth year and may require 2 or 3 more years to bloom. Trilliums are long-lived, spreading slowly and taking several
years to form a significant clump. Do not remove old flowers but let the seeds
develop; ants will disperse them around your garden to start new clumps.
Purple trillium grows 8 to12 inches tall, and over several years can
become a patch up to 18 inches in width. Trilliums are poor competitors, do not
to plant aggressive plants nearby.
Purple Trillium recurvatum and White Trillium grandiflorum plants
require fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil and grow best in areas with
morning sun and afternoon shade or the bright shade beneath deciduous trees or
very tall conifers. In hot afternoon sun their foliage burns and in heavy shade
they will not flower well. Trilliums are sensitive to light and full sun
exposure is detrimental. For this reason, selective lumber harvesting will not
destroy a trillium colony, but clear-cutting will. Trillium flowers are a
favorite source of food for deer, and repeated grazing over several years will
kill the plants.
Picking a trillium flower does not necessarily kill the plant but damage will result if the green leaves are taken as well. The green leaves are needed for photosynthesis and if picked will not re-grow until the following year and this may not happen at all depending on the size of the rhizome.
The map below
shows areas where wild Trillium recurvatum, Purple Prairie Trillium
plants grow wild but they can be planted and will grow over most of the USA.
USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 8.
Purple Trillium seeds are not available at this time.
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Willow Springs, Mo. 65793
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recurvatum Purple Trillium Plant distribution map
complements of USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1
(http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.