The Red-Veined Snow Trillium (?)

Three years ago I mentioned a Snow Trillium with red veins. This year, it (or a close relative) is back, prettier than ever:

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There is no such thing as a red-veined snow trillium. But given that there are different trillium species that I have a hard time to tell apart, this one is quite distinct from the much more common trillium nivale (ordinarium). Which is also pretty:

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And this year, the red-veined (or hot-blooded?) variant was not a single appearance. Here is another specimen:

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My attempt to find more was marred by heavy sudden snowfall. After most of the 3 inches had melted away, what was left looked a bit ruffled. 

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Some protected themselves by huddling together, like the apparent snow hexillium below.

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That one is definitely a fraud. There are, however, very rare quadrilliums.

Snow Trillium

In the midwest, there is a fifth season between winter and spring, when everything seems to be in limbo for about a month. The temperatures rise above freezing point, but it’s not warm enough for any serious vegetation to spring up.


This is the time for the courageous, and one of them is the snow trillium. It typically blooms in early March, earlier than all other native wild flowers.


It enjoys steep limestone slopes facing south.

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When I went looking today at one of my favorite wildflower spots, the Cedar Bluffs Nature Preserve in Indiana, it didn’t look good. Apparently one day of intermittent warming last week had lured the trilliums into growth, and they were than hit by a hopefully final wave of sub zero temperatures and snow. The result is not pretty.

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Luckily, trilliums are very resilient where they like it. They will be back next year, courageous as always.

Update: The image above is not that of a dead snow trillium, but rather of a hepatica plant. More about this in a later post.