Picture Ohio! – Our State Wildflower, Large White Trillium

Large White Trilliums, Erie County, Ohio
Large White Trilliums, Erie County, Ohio

The most spectacular display of Large White trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) I have ever seen in the Buckeye State carpets a woodland near Sandusky in Erie County. The Ohio General Assembly designated the Large White Trillium, which grows in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, as our state wildflower in 1986. As many as eight species of trilliums may be found in Ohio, but the Large White Trillium, which blooms from early April in southern Ohio to mid-May in northern Ohio, is by far the most common. However, it is very hard to find trillium displays today as dense as the one shown above, due to browsing by White-tailed Deer, which have exploded in numbers throughout Ohio in recent decades and which relish trilliums as much as kids love candy bars.

Large White Trilliums, Cascade Metropark, Summit County
Cascade Metropark, Summit County

Pink trilliums? In fact, the photo above shows another stand of Large White Trilliums, which fade to pink as they age. But don’t confuse them with the much rarer Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum), shown in the photo below, which is found in the mountains of New England and the southern Appalachians, but in Ohio is confined to a handful of hemlock swamps in Ashtabula County. The flowers of the Painted Trillium are smaller and narrower, and the deep pink color is confined to the base of the flowers.

Painted Trilliums in Ashtabula County, Ohio
Painted Trilliums in Ashtabula County, Ohio
Trilliums & Violets, Ohio Heritage Garden, Governor's Residence, Bexley
Trilliums & Violets, Ohio Heritage Garden, Governor's Residence, Bexley

During 2006 and 2007 I was commissioned by First Lady Hope Taft to photograph Ohio wildflowers that had been planted in the Ohio Heritage Garden at the Governor’s Residence in Bexley, just east of downtown Columbus. Many of these wildflowers were rescued from development sites around Ohio by Mrs. Taft and her friends from several Ohio garden clubs, including the trilliums, violets, and other wildflowers included in the photograph above, which shows a section of the Woodland Garden at the Governor’s Residence.

Do you think the Large White Trillium is a good choice for Ohio’s state wildflower?

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