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Trillium sessile (Toadshade)
Reveal, James L.

Trillium sessile

Trillium sessile L.

Toadshade, Red Trillium, Red Wake-robin, Sessile Trillium, Sessile Wake-robin, Yellow Trillium, Yellow Wake-robin

Liliaceae (Lily Family)


USDA Symbol: trse2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A thick rhizome sends up a 4-12 in. stem with three broadly oval leaves at the apex. Flower sepals are spreading and green while the petals are ascending and deep-maroon. The petals elongate slightly as the flower ages and gradually turn yellowish green. The stalkless flower is directly above the 3 whorled leaves and appears closed, an impression created by its narrow, erect petals.

The flower somewhat resembles Purple Trillium (T. erectum) but is distinguished by its lack of stalk and closed appearance. Several other stalkless species that appear closed are Little Sweet Betsy (T. cuneatum), an ill-scented southeastern species with large flowers up to 3" (7.5 cm) long and weakly mottled leaves; Yellow Trillium (T. luteum), in southern and midwestern areas, with yellow, lemon-scented flowers and mottled leaves; Green Wake-Robin (T. viride), also in southern and midwestern areas, with narrow, greenish, clawed petals up to 2" (5 cm) long; and Prairie Trillium (T. recurvatum), a midwestern plant with erect, clawed, maroon petals, drooping sepals, and mottled leaves.


From the Image Gallery

23 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 1 foot tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , DC , IL , IN , KS , KY , MD , MI , MO , NC , NY , OH , OK , PA , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: PA to IN & MO, s. to NC, AL & AR
Native Habitat: Stream, river banks. Moist, rich woods.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam


Description: Plant seed outdoors in fall and water if insufficient moisture occurs during the winter. Do not disturb seedlings the first growing season. To ensure success, plant numerous seeds and thin if necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Pictures and sources for black trilliums
June 10, 2008
Do you have pictures and/or sources for Black Trilliums?
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for moist shade in Missouri
January 16, 2005
I live near Adrian, Mo (s of KC by an hour). I currently have a small hillside that is covered by trees and shaded all day and also seems to hold moisture really well. The hill seems to grow a littl...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1987 VOL. 4, NO.1 - One Million Bequest Announced, Lady Bird Johnson On Celebrating Four Years, Spri...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Trillium sessile in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Trillium sessile in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Trillium sessile


Record Modified: 2023-03-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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