The trout lily derives its name due to the resemblance of its mottled leaves to the coloring on brook trout. This 4-10″ tall wildflower is one of the earliest to bloom in Michigan and is also known as Adder’s Tongue and Dogtooth Violet. Edible Wild Food’s entry for trout lily (Erythronium americanum) says:
Trout Lily grows in huge colonies that can completely cover a forest floor. The colonies can be hundreds of years old and takes a long time to grow to such a size. Its bulbs are sterile up to about the seventh year and then it produces only one leaf and no flowers. When they mature one plant will grow two leaves and one, beautiful yellow flower. The colony spreads mostly by runners and less importantly by seed. Trout lilies have a symbiotic relationship with ants known as myrmecochory. This means that they exchange a lipid-rich appendage on their seeds in return for an ant seed dispersal that spreads the colony and protects the seeds from predation. This plant is a beautiful spring ephemeral meaning it is short-lived in the spring only.
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