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Trillium underwoodii

Family: Liliaceae (lily family)
Common Name: Purple toadshade, sweet betsy
Plant Type:
  • perennial
Height to: 8-10"
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
Sun Exposure:
  • full shade
Bloom Season:
  • early spring
  • early winter
Bloom Description: The leaves are 2-4 in (5. 1-10. 2 cm) long and droop down almost to the ground. The greenish-maroon (sometimes brown or yellow) flower petals stand straight up and never open fully. The flowers have a peculiar spicy fragrance that some find unappealing. Purple toadshade blooms in very early spring.
Soil Type: Likes a neutral to basic soil. Add lime to acid soils.
Propagation: By dividing the rhizome or by seed.
Native to: Southeast us from north carolina and kentucky to north florida and mississippi. T. Underwoodii is restricted to north florida and adjacent alabama and georgia.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - trilliums (from the latin for "three") have all their parts in threes: three "leaves" (actually bracts), three sepals, three petals, three stigmas on the pistil, and six stamens. Trilliums have a single 8-12 in (20. 3-25. 4 cm) stem (technically a peduncle) that arises from a perennial rhizome and bears a single whorl of three leaflike bracts, and just above them, a single flower. One of the most common and widespread trilliums in the southeastern us is t. Cuneatum, or purple toadshade. Most authorities recognize t. Underwoodii as a distinct, but closely related species. The two are very similar and their ranges are adjoining without overlapping, so we treat them together. The "leaves" of purple toadshade are mottled dark and light green, with most of the light green down the center. The leaves are 2-4 in (5. 1-10. 2 cm) long and droop down almost to the ground. The greenish-maroon (sometimes brown or yellow) flower petals stand straight up and never open fully. The flowers have a peculiar spicy fragrance that some find unappealing. Purple toadshade blooms in very early spring. Trilliums dug from the wild usually die. The practice of digging wild plants is selfish and condemned by all responsible naturalists and gardeners. And, it is illegal on public lands and on private lands too unless you have the owner's permission. Unfortunately, only a few nurseries have trilliums for sale, but it is worth looking for them. They make striking, albeit ephemeral, groundcovers in the shade of a large oak. I have a small patch of purple toadshade under a spreading oakleaf hydrangea (hydrangea quercifolia) and am delighted each spring when they come up stronger and more numerous than the year before.
Located in: Perennials
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