Chuck Kleine Published

EDIBLE MOUNTAIN – Please Don't Pick The Trillium

Edible Mountain - please don't pick the trillium.jpg

The Trillium is an icon in Appalachia. Old timers of this region thought picking this delicate flower would bring rain.The ephemeral plant graces us with its beauty in the early spring before the leaves fully grow on the trees. When Trillium is in bloom and has a foothold on the side of a wooded hill, it can stop you in your tracks and make you take a moment to appreciate the amazing garden we live in.


Chuck Kleine
Trillium grandiflorum at Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area Ohio County, WV.

There are six species of trillium in West Virginia and 43 species worldwide with the greatest diversity of species found in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Some common names include Wakerobin, Toadshade, Triflower, Birthroot, Birthwort, and Wood Lily.

The white trillium, abundant in Appalachia, starts its life as white but will progress to a lovely shade of pink, then lavender, and eventually to a very dark purple red as the plant ages. They’ve been used to symbolize the Trinity in Christianity due to its distinctive arrangement of 3 leaves and 3 flower petals.

Trillium plants can live 20 – 50 years, and can take 7 to 10 years to first bloom. Obviously, it is a sensitive plant. In fact picking the flower too close to the leaves can kill the entire plant. So some of these slow growing species of trillium are listed as threatened or endangered, and picking them is illegal in some states.


Mike Farber
Trillium erectum in Bloom at Tea Creek Camp Ground Marlinton WV

Trillium is edible for medicinal purposes, mostly as a diuretic and an antiseptic. The young leaves have a pleasant flavor – a bit on the nutty side. But roots and berries are toxic and can cause vomiting. The best advice from experts suggests avoiding consumption.

These beautiful plants have been used to symbolize recovery, strength and beauty. We have countless roads, buildings and many other things named after this elegant lady. It is always best practice to consider conservation when it comes to our wild plants. And when it comes to trillium, let’s admire, respect and preserve them for future walks in our Appalachian woods.

EDIBLE MOUNTAIN Please Don't Pick The Trillium