Glenda showed us aerial photographs of the area spanning 80 years, and photos of the first planting parties in 2001. The growth and changes in Bill's Woods since then have been remarkable! It was a treat to see the area through the eyes of one of the original leaders of the restoration, and the pleasure Glenda has in continuing to care for this beautiful spot. We also saw some Hepatica, Bloodroot, and a massive clump of Trillium. Two barred owlets nesting in a Red Oak hollow were spotted above the trail. Sandhill Cranes called back and forth in the Class of 1918 Marsh. It’s probably safe to assume that the cranes were enjoying the warm weather as much as we were! Friends host and reporter: Matt Chotlos.
The beautiful trillium on the photo above led to a spirited post field trip discussion as to it’s identity. Steve Sentoff, who has vastly deepened his knowledge of Preserve plants by simply photographing and posting them on iNaturalist, offered “I’m no botanist, so I'll defer to any expert. But my best assessment is that this is Trillium erectum var. album, the white-petalled variant of Red Trillium. See the iNaturalist ID pagehttps://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/126171-Trillium-erectum-album. I don't know of any other trillium we have with white petals and that red ovary.” Brandon Corder, also anavid iNaturalist poster, identified the same trillium as Drooping or Bent trillium (Trillium flexiopes).
Glenda reports fascinating background on these two trilliums in the Preserve. “All I could remember [on the field trip] was that Nodding trillium had maroon in its middle and Bent trillium had cream. … The Bent trillium (Trillium flexipes) I once found in the Preserve and whose photo I took to Ted Cochrane for ID, as I recall, had a cream-colored middle and was shaped quite differently. The flower part seems smaller in relation to the plant as a whole and was twisted in a way this one was not. … [And] I know I did plant [the Nodding trillium]. I just can’t remember for certain if it’s the one I moved from Western Bills Woods. I’m pretty sure there are others of this kind Both in Big Woods and the big patch in Eagle Heights Woods. … and just to add to the confusion,”
Glenda quotes a a piece from minnesotawildflowers.info, in their discussion of Nodding trillium:
It is very easy to miss these flowers because the leaves tend to drape over them, hiding them from view. When I went out looking for them, I had to lift up the leaves to see if flowers were there and found flowers only on the tallest plants. There is a similar species, Drooping Trillium (T. flexipes). Various references mention that the length of the flower stalk or anthers, the degree the petals curve, the degree the flower angles, size of the leaves, or other differences can help in differentiating the 2 species but there is much overlap in all those respects. I used to believe the color of the anthers was the best way (Drooping Trillium usually has creamy anthers) but have found that is not reliable, either (sigh). General rule: if the flower is below the leaves and it has pinkish purple anthers, it's Nodding Trillium, but location in the state can help ID it as well, as Drooping Trillium is far less common. At one time Trillium was in its own Trilliaceae family, then moved to the Liliaceae (Lily) family, and is now back in its own family, renamed Melanthiaceae.