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Purple Trillium

Often referred to as “Stinking Benjamin,” the Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum) emits a pungent odor described as smelling like a wet dog. Although that smell isn’t terribly appealing to humans, it is irresistible to a number of insect species that aid in pollinating this odd plant.

Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum)-6460

From late April to early May, these flowers can be seen beautifully dotting the moist floors of our local deciduous forests with their characteristic three maroon petals and three large green leaves. Sometimes you may even come across forms that have white or “washed out” looking petals as well.

Trillium erectum (Red Trillium)

Interestingly, trilliums take several years to develop and can live upwards of 20 or more years. Picking an individual plant could kill it or prevent it from flowering again for years. So do everyone a favor by admiring these flowers where they are and leaving them in place so that others may enjoy them too!

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To learn more about these flowers and other plant-life in our region visit RTPI’s Digital Natural History Atlas Project page to explore our region’s fascinating natural areas.