Montana Outdoors

May 3, 2012

Pink trilliums

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 9:26 pm

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

Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot

Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot

Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot

Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot

Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot

Western white trillium, Pacific trillium, Wake Robin, Birthroot, Trillium ovatum

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42 Comments »

  1. Wow, those are gorgeous. Such a deep color. Very different from the Trillium grandiflorum here that turn a very light pink as they age.

    Comment by kateri — May 3, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    • 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.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

  2. How beautiful–turning rose-colored as they age! Pure poetry, and what lovely photos. Thank you.

    Comment by Ellen Grace Olinger — May 4, 2012 @ 1:29 am

  3. It’s easy to see how it was named ‘trillium’, but how did it come to be known as ‘birthroot’. Whatever it’s called though it’s a beautiful flower, and you’re photographs are exquisite,.

    Comment by Finn Holding — May 4, 2012 @ 2:47 am

    • Some of the Indian tribes in this region used the root presumably as an aid to childbirth, hence that name.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  4. These are gorgeous – so exotic looking. Stunning photos once again!

    Comment by Jo Woolf — May 4, 2012 @ 3:10 am

    • Thanks Jo. It was several years before I understood that the pink and red colors of this species are really the end of the blossom. I wonder what the strategy is there!

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

      • Wow – that makes of them even more interesting!

        Comment by Jo Woolf — May 5, 2012 @ 12:51 am

        • Maybe the strategy of the color change has to do with pollination. Once the bloom is fertilized,
          the white color that attracted the insects goes away?

          Comment by Kim — May 5, 2012 @ 7:28 am

  5. Awesome macros. Color is unusual in my eyes, but very beautiful.

    Comment by Sartenada — May 4, 2012 @ 3:22 am

  6. I never knew that. I’ve always seen them white. Neat to know and always beautiful to see.

    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — May 4, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    • 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.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

      • Maybe it has to do with pollination. Once fertilization has occurred, the white color that the insects are attacted to goes away?

        Comment by Kim — May 5, 2012 @ 7:30 am

  7. Those are by far one of the strangest trilliums I’ve seen, but certainly beautiful. I wonder if the color is just a variant of the white?

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — May 4, 2012 @ 8:50 am

    • No, the individual blossom of this species starts white then changes to pink as it ages. I understand there is a species that is red though, but it doesn’t grow here.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

      • Yes, I read that in your blog, but then when I started typing a comment I had a brain cramp and forgot everything you said! Aging can be a real pain sometimes.

        Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — May 5, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

        • Believe me, I know exactly what that’s all about!

          Comment by montucky — May 5, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  8. So delicate — beautiful flowers!!

    Comment by allbymyself09 — May 4, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    • The semi-translucent look to some of them is because they were soaked by a rain during the night. It gives them an interesting look. There seems to be a lot of individual personality to trilliums too.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  9. quite beautiful, little treasures

    Comment by Tammie — May 4, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    • 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.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  10. I always like flower closeups like these. It’s like looking into a beautiful alien world.

    Comment by Ratty — May 4, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

    • Yes, it is like another world. Perhaps the “fairy worlds” from very old stories made sense after all!

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  11. I’ve never seen such a dark color in a trillium. Ours turn pink, then wither.

    Comment by Kim — May 4, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

    • 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.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  12. Very cool indeed…nice macros!!!

    Comment by dhphotosite — May 4, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    • Thanks. I don’t seem to ever get enough trillium photos! They have so much individual character.

      Comment by montucky — May 4, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  13. Those close-ups are really stunning with the raindrops.

    Comment by Candace — May 5, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    • This year it seems that most of my wildflower shots have been taken in or right after a rain. I like that, but sometimes the water gives a translucent appearance to flower petals.

      Comment by montucky — May 5, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

  14. 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!

    Comment by shoreacres — May 5, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

    • 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.

      Comment by montucky — May 5, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

  15. Very nice Terry. I’ve looked for trilliums this year, but I’ve been skunked so far. I’ll have another shot in two weeks when we go back up to Maine to a spot I’ve seen them in the past.

    Comment by jomegat — May 7, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    • 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!

      Comment by montucky — May 7, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

  16. Trilliums are fantastic wildflowers- I never tire of seeing them.

    Comment by Watching Seasons — May 9, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

    • I never tire of them either. A nice thing about hiking some of the steep canyon trails here is that trilliums spread out their bloom time according to altitude, making them available longer.

      Comment by montucky — May 9, 2012 @ 10:33 pm


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