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Trillium recurvatum

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Kemper Code:  R850

Common Name: wood lily
Zone: 4 to 9
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Melanthiaceae
Missouri Native: Yes
Native Range: Eastern United States
Height: 1 to 1.5 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1 foot
Bloom Time: April - May   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Purple to brownish purple
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in rich, humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Needs regular watering. Rhizomatous plant that is difficult to propagate from seed. Spreads very gradually if left undisturbed.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

The trillium is a simple, graceful perennial that is one of the most familiar and beloved of the spring woodland wildflowers. Leaves, petals and sepals all come in groups of three. This species, sometimes commonly called bloody butcher, is a Missouri native that grows to 15" high. An unbranched, naked stem is topped by three, evenly-spaced, lanceolate to rounded, dark green, hosta-like leaves (4" long) narrowing to short petioles (stems). Leaves are mottled with purple. The flower (1.75" high) features purple to brownish-purple, erect and clawed petals with three reflexed (turned down) sepals, and appears stalkless atop the center of the three-leaf whorl. A clump-forming plant with stems arising from thick, underground rhizomes which will spread slowly if left undisturbed. Foliage will usually die to the ground by mid-summer, particularly if the soil is allowed to dry out.


No serious insect or disease problems. This flower does not transplant well and should not be dug in the wild.


A classic spring-blooming, woodland wildflower. Excellent when massed in a shaded woodland garden, naturalized area or wildflower garden. Mixes well with other spring wildflowers and ferns. Not recommended for the perennial border.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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