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Botany Photo of the Day
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Pseudotrillium rivale

Pseudotrillium rivale
Pseudotrillium rivale

Today's images are the results of my very first attempts using a new piece of software to process the raw files. I also used a point-and-shoot camera instead of my usual SLR.

Pseudotrillium rivale is a relatively recent moniker for this species. Formerly named Trillium rivale (and still known horticulturally as such), it is a Siskiyou Mountains endemic tolerant of ultramafic soils. Its separation from the genus Trillium is due in part to the molecular phylogenetic work of Susan Farmer; see: S. Farmer and E.E. Schilling. 2002. Phylogenetic analyses of Trilliaceae based on morphological and molecular data. Systematic Botany 27(4):674-692. For some of the morphological differences, read Recent and Continuing Studies in Trilliaceae (reprinted from BEN #301): spotted petals, an elongating pedicel, and (in many individuals), glossy, heart-shaped, Philodendron-like leaves. On our trip to the Siskiyous, we saw enormous variability in this latter characteristic, and the particular individual plant in today's photograph was the foremost exception. Also exceptional was the fact that I don't think we spotted any plants growing near a watercourse, despite its common name of brook wakerobin.

Calphotos has a good set of photographs: Pseudotrillium rivale. You can also have a look at this image of a garden-grown plant by Silver Creek Garden @ Flickr. Lastly, if you are a Trillium enthusiast, then Trillium-L is the discussion list for you!

Botany resource link: Cactus adaptations to dry environments from the Mauseth lab at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow the menu items along the left side of the page; the botanical information is fascinating (and illustrated!), while the travel section is both funny and (occasionally) discomforting.

14 Comments

Wonderful shots and info about a trillium species i hadn't seen before! They seem to be amazingly variable. Charming- wonder if they'd do well on this side of the country?

Tammy,

Based on talk of such matters on Trillium-L (of which Susan Farmer is a regular contributor), the answer is no. Many Trillium enthusiast in the East have tried to grow Western Trillium. Their general results have been slow declines of the plants, with their eventual failure to return, usually after 3 to 4 years.

The suspicion has been that they require the dry summers typically encountered along the West Coast.

picture two is really quite good
point and shoot is fine really is

your spingtime and your flowers
are new to me thank you


It made me a little sad when they slapped a "pseudo" on this trillium, sometimes I prefer the mix-up-the-letters-for-a-new-genus version of splitting (Litrilum, amyone?) to avoid the admittedly subjective and completely nonscientific connotations of falseness. I have a similar queasiness about "false" used in common names--maybe particularly sensitive about that on the West Coast, since so many of our plants were given their common names by migrating East Coasters with their preconceived botanical notions.

Trillium is the state wildflower for Ohio, although the petals are pure white as I recall. So you CAN grow trillium back east, only not this particular variety.

Interesting viewpoint, Andrea. I'll admit to having a preference to anagrammatic names as well, mostly because of the mental puzzle.

That's really a shame, because it's so cute. If i ever move out to the north west, I'll have to put that on the short list along with the blue poppy. Certainly our summer was dry enough last year, but I have a feeling they mean humidity as well as rain, and even when we don't get rain it's humid.

There's plenty of trilliums that grow out this way- lutea, grandiflorum, catesbeii, and cuneautum are just a few i can think of off the top of my head. So i don't feel too slighted.

False comes from Latin as in pseudoacacia or pseudotsuga and a hundred other suchlike. In this context it does not mean false lying dishonest but not fully not completely such as in False Creek. There is nothing false about that waterway except that the first person going up it thought it was a creek but turned out not to be so. A dead end street doesnt mean that the street is dead but that it ends in a cul de sac.
So a false trillium is not a trillium but almost.

Nice pictures! :-)

And you could include those white veins as another distinctive character too -- but I know that doesn't show up on all specimens either. I *think* that the cordate leaf bases are more common, but ...

They're "Trillium" after all -- well known for their variability.

I picked "pseudo" because it had masqueraded for over 100 years as a Trillium. :-)

Tammy,

Yes, you have many nice options as far the genus Trillium go, many quite similar to Western Trillium species. I suspect you are correct about the humidity being a factor in their decline back east.


Roberta,

As it so happens: a) I was born and raised in Cincinnati, b) majored in botany and natural resource at the Ohio State University, and c) was a member of the board for the Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society for several years prior to moving to Oregon. So, I was aware that Trillium grandiflorum was the Ohio State wildflower and that there are Trillium species that do very well back East. I certainly didn't mean to imply that no Trillium species adapted to the climate back East, but I guess there no harm in clarifying that.

I forgot to add having been distracted by the pseudo business that this photo or plant is the most beautiful I have seen on this website by far.
The shape and venation of the leaves paralleling the contour of the flower petals with the same curve of the tendrils or stems Dürer Botticelli MS mester Leonardo Degas Renoir or Van Gogh couldnt have painted it better.
Why it is so remarkable other than the perfection of the plant itself is the composition of the photo which includes all the parts of the plant including flower leaf and stem in its glorious entirety without cropping or guillotining significant structural elements.
Bravo.
The triune colours of leaf flower and background are also a tiumph.
A thrilling trillium indeed.

Can someone explain why IPNI is showing Pseudotrillium as being in the Liliaceae, not the Melanthiaceae?

Sure. IPNI is an index of plant names, with no obligation to provide the current-thinking assignment of genera to families. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group is the reference we use.

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