Trout Lily

Erythronium americanum Liliaceae

Growth habit

Herbaceous

Perennation

Perennial

Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region

Cultivation

Mottled leaves and yellow flowers up to 10" tall
Light: shade to part shade
Moisture and Soil: medium to moist, rich soil

Propagation

Seed Treatment and Storage: keep seed moist; warm/cold/warm stratify, may take 2-3 years to germinate

Biocultural value

Trout lily leaves can be used as a potherb, although the greens should not be gathered except where very abundant. The bulbs are sweet and nutritious but small and difficult to dig. Trout lily was used by the Cherokee and Haudenosaunee peoples for a variety of medicinal uses, including to reduce fever, heal wounds, and even prevent pregnancy.

The statements above were sourced from:

Fernald, Merritt Lyndon, and Alfred Charles Kinsey Kinsey. 1958. Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Native American Ethnobotany Database: http://naeb.BRIT Native American Ethnobotany Database.org/

Wildlife value

The trout lily andrena (Andrena erythronii), a specialist bee, collects pollen only from flowers in the genus Erythronium. The seeds are distributed in part by ants. The foliage is eaten only sparingly by herbivores, possibly because its dappling serves as camouflage against the forest floor.

Climate change sensitivity

Over the period from 1986 to 2015, Erythronium americanum bloomed an average of 10.9 days earlier.

Location

Purvis Road Natural Area, Mundy Wildflower Garden

Special characteristics

This plant's speckled leaves remind some people of a trout’s markings, hence the common name.