Friday, March 26, 2010

Chattahootchie River Wakerobin - Trillium decipiens

Chattahootchie River wakerobin (Trillium decipiens) is one of the most unique of Florida's four native trilliums.  In Florida, it is only known from 2 counties in the central Panhandle and it occurs only sporadically elsewhere in Georgia and Alabama.  The photos above were taken in Florida Caverns State Park outside Marianna in Jackson County.  All of our native trilliums bloom in early spring and occur in the understory of deciduous hardwood hammocks on top of limestone outcroppings.  The population at Florida Caverns is nothing short of spectacular.
All of our native trilliums have three-lobed mottled leaves.  In Chattahoochie wakerobin, these leaves are on a rather long stem and stand 6-8 inches above the ground.  The reproductive portions of the flowers of all trilliums are quite small and hidden inside the showy petals.  In this species, the petals are several inches long and vary between yellow and maroon in color. 
Trilliums require the conditions found in the understory of deciduous hardwoods hammocks to prosper and should not be attempted in the home landscape unless these conditions can be duplicated - well-drained sandy soils overlain with leaf litter.  Also of extreme importance is the presence of limestone.  This species, and its other Florida relatives, are offered by a few reputable nurseries who propagate them from seed.  Do not purchase plants from others who may dig them from wild populations.  If you can provide the conditions this species requires, trilliums make for extremely interesting additions to a woodland understory planting.

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