Western Trillium

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Western Trillium, BC Coastal Region
Western Trillium, Photo By Georgina Logan

The Western Trillium is a protected flower in BC. It is illegal to dig up Trillium’s or pick the flowers in the wild due to the protection act. It can be found growing on the south and central Vancouver Island, and on the south coast of BC.

Even before the law against picking trilliums was put in place folk beliefs were that if one picked the flower it would take seven years for it to grow back. The reasons for the importance of the protection of the trillium is that once it has been picked the flower’s growth stunted for years. The trillium, in reality,  takes up to fifteen years to flower and once it has been picked it dies and the entire process has to begin again. Please leave them growing.

The trillium is of the lily family and grows as perennial herbs from an underground rhizome. The stem appears above ground from February to April and rises 20 to 45cm high. The leaves of the flower are large and round and provide a green backdrop for the one lone three-leaved flower.

As the flower ages, the petals turn from white to pink or even purple. The reason for the change of color has been suggested to be a sign to pollinating bugs to move elsewhere. Depending on the climate the flowers open from March until May.

Western Trillium, BC Coastal Region
Western Trillium, Photo By Bud Logan

The Western Trillium can be found on lowlands and mountain slopes of extreme southern British Columbia except in the hot dry climates of the Interior. The trillium prefers rich moist woods and commonly can be found along the edges. The trillium is happiest in rich dark soils and prefers semi-shade.

On Vancouver Island, the dwarf form of the trillium can be found on the west side of Vancouver Island. This rare plant only grows to a mere 10 cm tall.

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