En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 22, 2014

From: Cloverdale, CA
Region: California
Topic: Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Picking flowers of bulbs from Cloverdale CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will picking the flowers of native bulb plants, such as Trillium, Blue Dicks, Fawn Lilies, kill the plant or keep it from reproducing? I do not condone this action but know people who do it.

ANSWER:

The short answer is no, picking flowers from these plants will not kill them, nor keep them from reproducing.  A longer addendum to that answer is that the flowers are all so tiny and mostly inconspicuous that we can't think why anyone would want a flower badly enough to get down on their hands and knees to pick one. They mostly have very short stalks which wouldn't lend them to being placed  in a vase. Apparently all of the species we have listed below are native to your area, in and around Sonoma CA, so you must have ideal growing conditions for them in that vicinity. The three plants you asked about, Trillium,  Blue Dick and Fawn lily, are all members of the Liliaceae family, propagated by both corms and seeds. In order to narrow down the list, we chose only members of those genera native to California. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, etc.

Trilliums - 39 native to North America, 3 to California

Trillium chloropetalum (Giant wakerobin)

Trillium ovatum (Pacific trillium)

Trillium rivale (Brook wakerobin)

Blue Dick:

Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. pauciflorum (Little bluedicks)- according to this USDA Plant Profile Map this only grows natively to inland Southern California

Fawn Lily - 11 native to North America, 5 to California

Erythronium californicum (California fawnlily)

Erythronium grandiflorum (Yellow avalanche-lily)

Erythronium oregonum (Giant white fawn-lily)

Erythronium purpurascens (Purple fawnlily)

Erythronium revolutum (Bog fawn-lily)

From our webpage on Trillium chloropetalum (Giant wakerobin), here are Propagation Instructions, which are pretty standard for all members of this family:

"Description: Rhizome division or seed. Seeds do best when planted outdoors soon after fruits have ripened. Plant seeds 1/4 in. deep in a moist, humusy location. Seedlings take many years to bloom. Divide rhizomes in fall."

Translation: If you pick a flower, it will make no seeds for that particular plant, but the corms (rhizome division) will still be there to propagate the plant, which takes a long time in any case.

 

From the Image Gallery


Giant wakerobin
Trillium chloropetalum

Pacific trillium
Trillium ovatum

Brook wake-robin
Trillium rivale

California fawnlily
Erythronium californicum

Yellow avalanche-lily
Erythronium grandiflorum

Purple fawnlily
Erythronium purpurascens

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Information about Berlandiera spp. from DeLand FL
May 26, 2011 - I am looking for information (something cool) about green eyes, Berlandiera spp. Information such as any medical use or story associated with the plant. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Native alternative for liriope
September 20, 2011 - I am looking for native alternatives to liriope for use in sun to part shade, moderate moisture planting beds. Would prefer evergreen options.
view the full question and answer

How to have year round color in the garden in Fort Worth
October 23, 2010 - Hello, I'm sending an SOS for a miracle! Since planting is the best now during the fall or so I've been told for North Texas Native Perennials, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. My beautifully mat...
view the full question and answer

Source for air plant from Warwick RI
April 23, 2012 - Would you know of any store in Rhode Island that would sell the air plant (tillandsia plant)? I've been searching around and no luck! I would appreciate the help!! Thank you and take care
view the full question and answer

Resurrection plant not reviving.
February 04, 2009 - I have what might be a resurrection plant but it never turns green. When it is watered it opens up and turns from tan to dark brown. Is it just a different variety of resurrection plant or something...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center