Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo
April 8, 2019
Over the weekend we went in search of snow trilliums on a far hillside and found leaves, buds, but no blooms. Two days later, we went close to home and found them blooming at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden—the first flowers on the forest floor.
We’ve seen them bloom through snow and after a late snowfall, and we’re eager to see how they do after the predicted blizzard headed our way later this week. They’re not named snow trilliums for nothing, and our guess is they’ll be fine, they (or their ancestors) having survived this long in Minnesota’s fickle springtimes.
The Department of Natural Resources lists them as a species of special concern, at least in part because they have such highly specific habitats. We’ve seen them growing on limestone cliffs but never in their other preferred habitat, floodplain forests (perhaps because we haven’t looked there yet).
And they are truly ephemeral–soon enough after blooming, they’ll disappear completely until next year. Like other spring ephemerals, they have only a short moment of time before the forest leafs out to block the sun. Snow trilliums make the most of their moment, bright white flowers against last year’s brown leaf litter (or sometimes snow). And we count ourselves lucky whenever we see them, with or without snow. Preferably without.
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