Wildflowers of the Adirondack Mountains:  Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) on the Boreal Life  Trail at the Paul Smiths VIC (4 May 2013)

Adirondack Wildflowers:
Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Wildflowers of the Adirondack Mountains:  Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) on the Boreal Life  Trail at the Paul Smiths VIC (4 May 2013) Adirondack Wildflowers: Trout Lily along the Boreal Life Trail at the Paul Smiths VIC (4 May 2013)

One of the earliest spring flowers in the Adirondack Mountains is the Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) - a spring ephemeral with delicate yellow blooms and mottled leaves. Like other spring ephemerals, Trout Lilies bloom early in the spring, quickly produce seed, and then wither as the trees around them come into full leaf. This strategy allows the plant to take advantage of the sunlight reaching the forest floor in early spring.

The yellow flowers are solitary and nodding, usually about an inch or more in diameter. During bright days, the petals are reflexed. The two 3-8" inch elliptical leaves are mottled with brown, resembling a trout. Single leaved plants also occur, but do not flower. This plant is also known as the Fawn Lily, American Trout-lily, Yellow Trout-lily or Yellow Adder's Tongue. It is also known as the Dogtooth Violet, referring to the tooth-like shape of the white underground bulb.

The plant was reportedly used by native Americans for a variety of medicinal purposes. The juice from crushed leaves was used by Cherokees for wounds that would not heal. An infusion of the root was also given for fever.

Adirondack Wildflowers:  Mottled leaves of the Trout Lily on the Jenkins Mountain Trail at the Paul Smiths VIC (1 May 2013)Adirondack Wildflowers: Mottled leaves of the Trout Lily along the Jenkins Mountain Trail (1 May 2013)

The Trout Lily -- a member of the lily family -- occurs in woodland in the eastern United States, including New York State. It is common in rich woods, often forming large colonies, throughout the Adirondack Park. Trout Lilies grow along many of the trails at the Paul Smiths VIC, including the Boreal Life Trail and the Jenkins Mountain Trail. The leaves usually appear in late April, with the flowers following in late April or early May, depending on the weather.

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Explore the VIC

The Paul Smiths VIC offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year to educate and inform Adirondack Park residents and visitors about the natural wonders of the Adirondack Mountains. You can help support these programs by joining the Friends of the VIC. More information on Friends of the VIC memberships

Explore the Trails

The VIC trails are free and open to the public, from dawn to dusk, spring through fall. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers for a fee. Day or season passes may be purchased.