Relict Trillium
Trillium reliquum
- J. D. Freeman
Trilliaceae (Trillium) Family

Relict Trillium is a native herbaceous perennial found in the three east central and southeastern counties in Alabama, growing in rich hardwood forests, in ravines, and along streams. It is a perennial from a stout rhizome. Relict Trillium often grows with Spotted Trillium (Trillium maculatum Rafinesque). Spotted Trillium is a taller plant with distinctive spoon-shaped petals, and only two colors of green on its leaves and no distinctive silver stripe on the midrib.

It has three leaf-like bracts at the apex of a short stem (2-4 inches); mottled in three colors of green with a silver stripe down the midrib; ovate to elliptic in outline and widest near the middle. The bracts are on, or close to, the surface of the leaf litter. The stem is often decumbent or “S” shaped.

The flower is sessile at the center of the bracts. The flowers have a fetid odor. The sepals are often purplish in color and recurved at their tips. The petals are erect, elliptic to oblanceolate in outline, and dark purple in color. The petals often become yellowish-green as they age. The anther dehiscence is introrse (the anthers split along the side towards the interior of the flower).

The fruit is a mealy capsule with several seed. The tan seed have a white, oily elaiosome along one side.

Relict Trillium resembles the more common Underwood’s Trillium (Trillium underwoodii Small). Like Underwood’s Trillium, the leaves have three colors of green on them with a silver-green stripe down the midrib. It is also short like Underwood’s Trillium, the leaves easily touching the leaf litter when bent down the stalk. It differs in the shape of the leaf, with those of Relic Trillium being more rounded and widest near the middle. The leaves of Underwood’s Trillium are more pointed and are widest near the base. The stem also is often bent into a “S” shape, instead of being straight as in Underwood’s Trillium.

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