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This Month in the Newton Conservators Almanac

May 2012

Photo by Beth E. Schroeder

TROUT LILY, Erythronium americanum

Trout Lily is also known as dogtooth violet or yellow adder’s tongue. It grows in colonies in moist woods. Yellow, nodding flowers are carried singly above the basal mottled leaves, which resemble the skin of a trout – hence this lily’s name. An alternate name, dogtooth violet, refers to the shape of the root. In the early spring, queen bumblebees rely on the pollen of trout lilies to feed emerging worker bees. Leaves of this plant accumulate phosphorus and when the leaves die back in midsummer the element is returned to the soil as a readily usable nutrient for other plants. Trout lilies have been used as herbal medicine to induce vomiting. Native Americans used the leaves as a poultice to cure skin ulcers.

More information:

US Department of Agriculture


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Connecticut Botanical Society


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