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White Trillium
Trillium Grandiflorum

Other Names: Bath-flower, Birth-root, Great White Trillium, Ground lily, Large-flower Wakerobin, Large-flowered Trillium, Trillium, White Trillium, Large White Trillium, Wood Lily, Indian shamrock

Habitat: (Trillium Grandiflorum) Perennial herb native to Eastern N. America and Canada, Maine to Ontario, south to Georgia and Arkansas. Found growing in rich woods and thickets, usually on limestone. Cultivation: Trillium is fairly easy to grow, it prefers a deep well-drained woodland or humus-rich soil in a shady position that remains moist in the summer. Transplants from the wild are best, but can be propagated by seed though it may take 2 years to germinate and another two years to bloom. Trillium is a very ornamental and long-lived plant. It is said to be a polymorphic species and is very subject to mutation. The spring flowers symbolizes the early arrival of robins- ‘wake-robin'. Trillium grows from a short thick root or rhizome. The long stem is tinged with red, round and smooth, unbranched, growing up to 2 feet high. Atop the stem there is a whorl of 3 broadly ovate, short petiole, wavy-edged and dark green leaves. This whorl of leaves can reach as much as 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The flower perches upright above the leaves on a 2 to 3 inch petiole or small stem, it is bright white at first turning pink to red with age, it has 3 petals and 3 green sepals, forming a star shape and can grow 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The flowers bloom in April to May. Gather young edible leaves in early spring, as soon as they emerge for use as a pot herb. Gather roots in summer after flowers fade, dry for later herb use.

Properties: White Trillium is edible and medicinal, it has a long history of use by Native Americans. The root is medicinal as an abortifacient, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, emmenagogue, and ophthalmic. The roots, fresh or dry, may be boiled in milk and used for diarrhea and dysentery. The raw root is grated and applied as a poultice to the eye in order to reduce swelling, or on aching rheumatic joints. The leaves were boiled in lard and applied to ulcers as a poultice, and to prevent gangrene. An infusion of the root is used in the treatment of cramps and a common name for the plant, ‘birthroot', originated from its use to promote menstruation. A decoction of the root bark can be used as drops in treating earache. Constituents found in the volatile and fixed oils are, tannic acid, saponin, a glucoside resembling convallamarin, sulphuric acid and potassium dichromate, gum, resin, and starch.


Folklore: Used as abortifacients or to facilitate childbirth, and to treat other female problems by the women of many Native American tribes. Trillium root was considered to be a sacred female herb and they only spoke of it to their medicine women.


Medicinal drink: Add 1 tsp. herb decoction to 1 cup warm milk, take at bedtime for diarrhea.

Pot herb: Gather young unfolding leaves boil or fry and season to taste.



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