[Trillium-l] North American Trillium Hybrids

Lis Allison garden at pine-ridge.ca
Wed Jan 26 01:32:44 CET 2011

On January 25, 2011, Richard Vagner wrote:
> ..... The thing I recall most about those years was the
> uniformity of T. grandiflorum in both flowers and plant structure.

I do find a certain amount of variation in T. grandiflorum plants in my 
area. Most of the T. grandiflorums here, and I'm talking about thousands 
of them, have strap-shaped petals. A few have much rounder petals. Another 
few have very frilled petals. Some plants are consistently much larger 
than the others, too. I know these differences are not huge, but they make 
a difference if you are growing these plants in a garden. My large, round-
petaled T. grandiflorum is a much better garden plant than the majority.

>Also the practice of selecting one
> plant as the representative of the taxon and excluding the variation
> gives us problems in not being able to account for the cline from one
> species to another over distance, time of the rate of evolution.

Absolutely. I've been studying the local violets, and with them this is a 
huge problem. They vary tremendously, even the same plants from season to 
season, so identifying them on the basis of the size of some part of the 
plant is just about impossible. You have to study many examples of each 
species and get a 'feel' for the variation before you can be confident 
that you can recognize the species. I think the same must be true of the 
Trilliums. The taxonomists try to create keys, but these can be  
misleading. Of course some species are easy, but others can drive the 
amateur nuts.

I purchased some plants over the last few years with names such as 
Trillium luteum, T. sessile, T. sessile luteum and T. luteum sessile. 
Leaving aside the obvious illiteracy in the last case, the names are still 
dubious because as far as I can tell they are all T. luteum. They are all 
identical. One other plant labeled T. sessile is definitely T. recurvatum 
(quite hardy here in zone 4, btw). Two others plants were helpfully 
labeled 'Toadshade Trillium'. I still haven't figured out what they are, 
the flowers are small, brownish red, sort of chubby, sessile, and don't 
last long. Maybe they'll be better this year and I'll be able to name 

Anyway, didn't mean to rant, just agree that one plant at one time does 
not a species define.

Lis, Carp Ontario Canada, zone 4

Lis Allison
Pine Ridge Studio
Garden blog: www.garden-on-the-ridge.blogspot.ca

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