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Western Trillium - Trillium ovatum

Family: Melanthiaceae (Previously in Liliaceae)[E-flora]
Other Names: Wakerobin, Pacific trillium, Oettinger's trillium, Hibberson's trillium. [PFAF]

Var. ovatum is Yellow listed, Var. hibbersonii is Red listed. [E-flora]




Trillium ovatum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)[PFAF]
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.[PFAF]
Origin Status: Native. [E-flora]

Habitat & Range

Habitat: Moist forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones (var. ovatum), and mossy bluff ledges and river boulders in the lowland zone (var. hibbersonii) [IFBC-E-flora]

Rich woodlands[165]. Damp woods or boggy areas in partial shade, from low valleys to elevations of 2,000 metres[212].[PFAF]

Range: common in S BC, south of 50degreeN; E to SW AB and S to CO and CA.[IFBC-E-flora]

Western N. America - Montana to British Columbia, south to California and Colorado.[PFAF]

Ecological Indicator

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American forb distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime to submaritime cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation, latitude, and continentality. Scattered on water-receiving sites; usually associated with Achlys triphylla, Galium triflorum, Polystichum munitum, Streptopus amplexifolius, and Tiarella trifoliata. A nitrophytic species characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms. [1.2]


Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses


Cultivation: Prefers a deep well-drained woodland or humus-rich soil in a somewhat shady position that remains moist in the summer[1, 42]. Prefers a neutral to slightly acid soil[200]. Grows well in open woodland[1]. Succeeds in deep shade[188]. Succeeds in a sunny position if the soil does not dry out[42]. Any transplanting is best done whilst the plants are in flower[200]. Plants can flower in two years from seed[138]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233], though slugs are very fond of the leaves[238].[PFAF]

Propagation: Seed - best sown in a shaded cold frame as soon as it is ripe[134, 200]. Stored seed should be sown in late winter or early spring. Seed usually germinates within 1 - 3 months at 15°c. Another report says that seeds produce a root after the first cold stratification but no shoot is produced until after a second winter[138], whilst yet another report says that the seed can take 3 years to germinate[238]. The seedlings are prone to damp off and must therefore be watered with care and given plenty of fresh air[138]. The young plants need to be overwintered in a cold frame for the first year and can then be planted out in late spring. It is very important that the pots become neither too dry nor too wet[138]. Division with care when the plants die down after flowering[200]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the following spring.[PFAF]


[E-flora] Trillium ovatum, http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Trillium ovatum&redblue=Both&lifeform=7, In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2013. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: October 7, 2014]
[2] Personal Observation and notes. http://www.phytoday.org
[3] , http://www.Theplantlist.org, Accessed on April 23, 2014.
[4] Vancouver Island Default Map taken from Google Maps, www.google.ca, Accessed May 13, 2014
[PFAF] Trillium ovatum Plants for a future, Accessed October 7, 2014
[UMD-Eth] Accessed Jan 31, 2015

  • 1.Steedman, E.V. 1928 The Ethnobotany of the Thompson Indians of British Columbia. SI-BAE Annual Report #45:441-522 (p. 472)
  • 2.Gunther, Erna 1973 Ethnobotany of Western Washington. Seattle. University of Washington Press. Revised edition (p. 25)
  • 3.Mahar, James Michael. 1953 Ethnobotany of the Oregon Paiutes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Reed College, B.A. Thesis (p. 58)

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Page last modified on 02-11-2016