Ontario Wildflowers website

Trout Lily
Erythronium americanum

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) Other common names: Adder's Tongue, Dogtooth Violet, Yellow Adder's Tongue

Family: Lily Family (Liliaceae)

Group: Trout Lillies

Distinctive features: The bright yellow flowers are among the first to bloom in the spring. Mottled small pointy leaves.

Similar species:
  •   White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum) - white flowers, very similar habitat.

Flowers: Spring;  Yellow;  6 parts (petals);  Solitary yellow nodding flowers. Very photogenic.

Leaves: One or two per plant. Stiff, upright, 3-8" long. Mottled like a trout fish skin (hence the name).

Height: 7-20 cm (3-8 in)

Stem: None, except for the flower: smooth.

Fruit/Seeds: In a capsule, maturing as the rest of the plant dies off.

Habitat: Forests;  Forests.

Lifespan: Perennial.  Disappears by early summer, to reappear the next spring.

Edible: The corms (tubers) are edible raw.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 338    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 102    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 73   

Native/Non-native: Native

Notes: These are extremely photogenic plants that dapple the early spring woods with their beautiful yellow.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: americanum: American

Photographs: 325 photographs available, of which 12 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flowers

The flowers.

Leaves are also visible here.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flower

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flower

It is easy to see why I call this a highly photogenic flower! I go kinda nuts taking photos of this plant every spring, even though I already have plenty of photos of it!

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flowers

Three flowers that are slightly different - note how the petals are curled right back. This photo certainly shows why this plant is a member of the Lily Family!

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flower

Flower and leaves.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flower bud

Unopened flower.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) leaves

Leaves. Someone ate the flower.

Note how mottled they are.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) plants

In some places Trout Lilies grow very dense, just like a ground cover. They are all individual plants, however.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) plants

A small grouping of them.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) seed pods

Maturing seed pods. By this time, the leaves have already started to die off.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) root

The small bulb (corm) at the bottom of the plant is edible raw. It has a very fresh taste, sort of like cucumber.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) root

Another one. Peel away the sheath, roots, and dirt, and pop it in your mouth. There's not a lot there, but they are nice and fresh tasting.

As usual, please exercise careful judgment when collecting wild plants for food. Wild plants everywhere are under a lot of stress due to habitat loss. Best to leave them for others (birds, animals, insects, etc, as well as humans) to enjoy!

Range map for Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)