Erythronium americanum (American trout-lily)
Genus: Erythronium – The genus Erythronium includes about 25 species of easily recognizable spring-blooming flowers. While most are native to the northwest, here in the northeast we do have two species, E. americanum and E. albidum.
Family: Liliaceae (lily) – The lily family includes over 600 worldwide species in fifteen genus.
Bloom Time: A spring ephemeral, blooming in April and May.
Bloom Color: Yellow (the other northeast species, Erythronium albidum, has a white bloom)
Plant Height: 7-20 cm
Leaves: Mature trout lilies have two basal leaves, immature plants (that won’t produce a bloom) have one basal leaf. The leaves of Erythronium americanum have a unique mottled appearance similar to the skin of a trout.
Habitat: Terrestrial, trout lily likes moist, rich soil and a good amount of sun in the spring.
Life Cycle: After being pollinated by ants, a trout lily plant will not mature for about seven years, when it will have two basal leaves and one flowering stem. Immature plants will only have one basal leaf. A spring ephemeral, the entire blooming cycle of a trout lily is completed before the rest of the forest has woken up for the spring.
Key Facts: One of the most recognizable of the spring ephemerals, the leaves of a trout lily are the most distinctive feature. While the leaves are edible, be sure not to consume to many as they can cause significant stomach distress.