One of the most beloved signs of spring across the state is the red trillium wildflower (Trillium erectum). With its three deep-red petals and three whorled leaf-like structures, trillium is easily recognized by even the most beginner plant enthusiasts.
This trillium species is native to the eastern and northeastern US. In New York State, you can find it in every region. As a shade-tolerant species, trillium thrives in damp, semi-shady forests, though it emerges early in the spring to take advantage of full sun before the trees above it leaf out. Across the state, you may be able to spot this flower sometime in March through June. The flowers wither after about 2-3 weeks of blooming, leaving behind berry-like fruit that is eaten by birds and mammals.
This trillium species is listed as “exploitably vulnerable” on New York’s list of protected plants. Because of its protected status, remember that if you are lucky to spot a trillium while out in the woods, you should enjoy its brief beauty using only your eyes and your camera.
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