Trillium cernuum L.
Whip-poor-will flower, Nodding trillium, Nodding wakerobin
Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Synonym(s): Trillium cernuum var. macranthum
USDA Symbol: TRCE
Whip-poor-will flower or nodding trillium is 12-18 in. in height. A nodding flower with three wavy petals hides beneath a whorl of three large leaves. The flower is white with deep rose anthers. A three-cornered berried follows the flower, eventually turning red. 1 nodding white flower on a short curved stalk hanging beneath whorled leaves.
The species name, from the Latin cernuus (drooping or nodding), refers to the stance of the flowers. Nodding Trillium is similar to Bent Trillium (T. flexipes), which has flowers with white rather than pink anthers.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit: Purple, Red
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May
DistributionUSA: CT , DE , IA , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SD , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Maritime, w. to Que. and MN, s. to New England, DE & uplands to GA & AL
Native Habitat: Damp, peaty, mostly conifer woods
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moldy, acidic soils.
Conditions Comments: Must have rich, moldy soil and plenty of shade and moisture. Maple leaves make a good wintercover.
BenefitUse Food: EDIBLE PARTS / PREPARATION: Young, unfolding leaves. Wash leaves in warm water to remove dirt and debris. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. Cook in boiling, salted water for ten minutes and serve like greens. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Berries and roots. Only low toxicity if eaten. Toxic Principle: Toxicity unknown, but caution because of its relationship with known toxic plants.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Rhizome division or seed. Seeds do best when planted outdoors soon after fruits have ripened. Seedlings take many years to bloom. Divide rhizomes in fall.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1987 VOL. 4, NO.1 - One Million Bequest Announced, Lady Bird Johnson On Celebrating Four Years, Spri...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Trillium cernuum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Trillium cernuum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Trillium cernuum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2014-09-24
Research By: TWC Staff