Trillium underwoodii Small
Melanthiaceae (Trillium) Family
Plant is an upright, perennial from a rhizome. Preferred habitat is moist wooded slopes and rich woods. Distribution is throughout the Coastal Plain except directly at seashore.
The leaf of this trillium is its most striking feature; up to six inches long and in three mottled shades of green; unstalked; egg-shaped. This is a low-to-the-ground plant, rarely more than 10 inches tall and the leaf often droops.
The deep maroon colored flower petals are long and narrow; overlapping so to appear as though the flower has not fully opened, thus easily confused with a related plant, T. cuneatum. Flowering occurs in the spring.
Fruit is a berry.
Underwood Trillium is one of the most common and widespread trilliums in the southeastern US. Most authorities recognize T. underwoodii as a distinct, but closely related species to the Sweet Betsy. The two are very similar and their ranges are adjoining without overlapping. The defining characteristic is the long leaves droop down almost to the ground and 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.