Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gold in the Shadows

Trout Lily
(Erythronium americanum)


Yesterday, the trail into the deep woods was carpeted with trout lilies in various stages of blooming and opening, and they were a treat for eyes and lens.

The quiet springtime bloomer has several common names, and they each draw attention to a distinguishing characteristic: "trout lily" from the resemblance of the artfully dappled leaves to the coloring of a brook trout, "fawn lily" for the way the leaves also resemble the freckled coat of a newborn fawn, "adder’s tongue" for the similarity of the leaf shape to a snake's tongue as it emerges from last autumn's dead leaves. The most common alternate name is "dog tooth violet”, and that is said to originate in the toothy white shapes of the underground corm, but the plant is a shy woodland member of the lily family and not a violet.

The Latin Erythronium comes from the Greek erythros, meaning “red” - that may refer to the vivid red of the sepals, or to the red veining on the outside of the petals, possibly to the red color of other members of the erythronium family but I think not. The sepals really are a lovely red color when viewed against the bright gold of the petals.

In April, the forest floor is carpeted with mottled single Trout Lily leaves, but they are mere children and will not bear blooms for another year or two - mature plants send up two leaves and a single vivid golden bell shaped flower. At sunrise, the closed downward pointing bloom resembles a member of the bellwort family, but as the day progresses, the six petals open out and curl back in the most wonderful way, resembling the artful curving shapes of kindred tiger, leopard and day lilies.

5 comments:

Delphyne said...

Gorgeous picture...

liliannattel said...

Beautiful photo. The colour is so sharp. And I enjoyed very much learning more about the trout lily.

Anonymous said...

She seems to be bowing to her Mother Earth in thanks for this day. And I shall follow suit as well...

Aisling said...

I love to come here and learn a little more about a childhood friend, like the trout lily. We called them "adder's tongues" when I was growing up, but I like knowing all the names and little bit of lore. Your photographs, as always, are so lovely!

Jean said...

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