Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 17, 2012

From: Rochester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Two-leafed trilliums
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Turns out our 2 leafed plant IS a trillium..I saw that another person from our town also asked about trilliums..we are happy to have them, but it is confusing when the third upper leaf is absent or very, very tiny!

ANSWER:

Now, I see that you have answered your own plant identification question.   I suppose your plant was either Trillium erectum (Red trillium) or, perhaps, Trillium sessile (Toadshade).  You would not have found it by doing the search I suggested in your first question because the database refers to the color of the flowers for the two trilliums as "red" and not "purple".   The information about T. erectum on eFloras, however, says that the flowers can be "red, maroon or dark purple."   The general information about the Genus Trillium on eFloras tells us that what we are calling "leaves" aren't true leaves, but bracts.  A bract, according to our Glossary of Botanical Terms, is:

"A reduced or modified leaf occurring at the base of a flower or group of flowers. Bracts are sometimes arranged in rows, like shingles on a roof, usually closely cupping the blossoms of Compositae (Sunflower Family); see also Phyllaries. Sometimes brightly colored or petallike, as in Castilleja (paintbrush), or threadlike, as in Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)."

Nowhere in the eFloras description of trilliums did I see any mention that sometimes one of the bracts is missing or reduced.  The missing or reduced third leaf (bract) would make identification difficult.  I am, however, very happy you figured out what your plant is.

I believe that this is the other question about trilliums from Rochester, NY that you referred to.

 

From the Image Gallery


Red trillium
Trillium erectum

Toadshade
Trillium sessile

More Plant Identification Questions

Identifying plant
October 21, 2007 - What plant is usually found growing in low-lying freshwater marshy places with a single, straight-stemmed plant that grows to about one-to-two feet in height. The branches and leaves are sparse with ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Woodbury TN
July 07, 2009 - Please help identify this unusual plant. I am in Middle TN, Cannon County. This plant comes up every year and looks like something tropical. It has huge leaves about 16 + inches wide. and grows abo...
view the full question and answer

State flower of Hawaii
January 04, 2006 - What color is the state flower of Hawaii?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
May 03, 2010 - I need to identify a weed-like plant ~1 ft high with thick stems, wide leaves ending in a single point and bluish-purple tear shaped petals arranged three in a triangle.
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
August 09, 2009 - We have red pointed things growing wild in our yard. About the size of an index finger. They just pop up after a rain. Are they poisonous? We have pets.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.