These photos were taken on May 1 of flowers from the same population that I photographed on April 16 (when they were white). They are pure white when they first bloom, then turn pink, then rose-colored as they age.
Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot, Trillium ovatum
These go through a light pink stage too, and I think just some of them go into the deeper red stage. I was hiking today in higher elevations and there I saw a mixture of new whites and ones already turning pink: no reds.
When I first learned of the blossom changing color with age, I wasn’t convinced. I selected several that were not too far away and photographed them a few weeks apart, same plants. Then I was convinced. Now I wonder shy they do it.
Treasures they certainly are. Today I made a hike that encompassed two thousand feet of elevation change and it was interesting to see the stages of the trilliums through the different elevations. “Little treasures” was how I thought of them too as I discovered more and more. I’m sure there were tens of thousands along that trail.
I’m not close enough to where they grow to be able to watch them every day, but my guess is that only some ever reach the dark stage. Whether that is a variation in the species or perhaps simply an effect from the weather I don’t know. Today at higher elevations I saw white and pink, no red, but that could have been because at the higher elevation it is earlier in spring and they haven’t had time to change. Above about 4400 feet they were still in bud and early bloom stage.
I just can’t get over the color change. In the world I’ve lived in, a purple flower is a purple flower, and a yellow flower is yellow. There can be variations from bud to bloom to seed, of course, but this is something of a different order entirely. It’s like magic!
It took some getting used to for me too. It’s rather handy though to be able to recognize what stage the blossoms are at. As I ascended a trail the other day the trilliums near the trail head (at 2400 feet) were all pink or red. At about 3000 feet there was a mix, with most there being white. At 4000 feet all of them were white and at 4400 feet they were all still in the bud stage.
They have done very well here this year, but at low elevations they are about through blooming now. Still plenty a few thousand feet higher up though. I hope you find them still in bloom when you go to Maine!
Such lovely color! I always enjoy the western whites that grow along the trail in my back yard. They do “fade” to pink with age and some to turn a bit darker, but never with such solid and deep purple as yours appear to be. And the translucence that these are exhibiting is something I have never seen. Nice photos!
I’ve noticed that there is a lot of variety in the colors at the end of the life of the bloom from plant to plant, even those growing in close proximity to each other although I don’t know why. I think the translucence comes from being thoroughly soaked by rain.
While doing research on the western white trillium, I found one source that said during the first year, the flower pedals are narrow and come to a point at the tip. With each passing season, they become broader with a more rounded end. This does seem to be true, although it is hard to recall from year to year, the location of specific plants. From your observation, can you confirm or dispute this claim?
No I sure couldn’t. I have been able to follow up on a few individual plants from the start of their bloom to the end of it, but I haven’t tried to do so year-to-year. That’s really interesting though!