Sunday, March 23, 2008

Trillium Hill Early Spring Blooms

If you look closely you can see the little white dots next to this waterfall, they are beautiful trillium ovatum. I tried to capture the power of this place in the photo but you would just have to be here to experience it. This is a water fall located at the Columbia River Gorge. I was awestruck when I saw such an abundance of trillium on this hill, beautiful and in bloom. I was so appreciative that this place had been protected and the trillium could continue to thrive here. The hill they were on went straight up, someone would have to put quite a bit of effort to get to the top to disturb this trillium population. My first feeling when I saw all of these trillium was exhilaration. After that I spent some time there being completely engrossed at the presence of them. I have been familiar with trillium for several years, we even had some growing in my wild forest backyard when I was a child. To spite being familiar with the plant, after this experience I felt a new special connection, even admiration that I had not experienced before.
This area is not far from the scenic highway. Likely, many people drive by in their cars to enjoy the vastness of the scenic views here. Take a closer look and you will find amazing plants like this that depend on the fragile ecosystem that surrounds them. My Mom was with me when we went on this outing. She told me she had forgotten how beautiful the plants are when you get up close. Her and her x would often go for drives here (it is called the scenic drive after all) but would rarely stop, except for at the main attractions like Multnomah Falls. I encourage everyone to get up close and personal with the earth, look closely in rock crevices, get down on your hands and knees, get connected!
This place was not far from my home as a child and I have always felt a deep connection here. My hope is that this area will continue to be preserved and protected.
To appreciate the rarity of this plant a little more, according to Eric Jules an assistant professor of biology at Humboldt State University Trillium ovatum rarely flower prior to their 15th year. Trillium may be propagated by seed that is produced at the end of summer, plant in the fall in soil similar to a moist forest where the plants are found. As you can see by the picture they also like to be near sword ferns and other moist forest plants. You will not see growth in the first year, and as mentioned above it will not flower for some time. I don't recommend propagating by rhizome from the wild because the plant could be disturbed. If you are able to get a rhizome from a cultivated source, be sure to ask for some of the original soil, they will require some of the microscopic fungus that comes in the soil to grow.
We just finalized our house purchase, I plan on creating a sustainable garden here with local plants. Trillium will definitely be a plant I cultivate. It will surely be worth the wait.
Trillium may seem abundant from the picture you see here. This is because this is a protected area. Let's help to keep this plant protected, even picking the leaves kills this plant. Trillium should not be collected in the wild it is protected in many states (see the prior link to learn about wildcrafting ethics, and how to find out if a plant is protected before picking), it is a plant to be respected and admired. Just sitting with the plant you can learn much from it.

Other names are Bethroot, birthroot, Indian balm, & squaw root.

Medicinal Uses
Trillium is astringent (read more on Kiva's blog here), antispasmodic, expectorant, emmenagogue, anditseptic, and uterine tonic
Often used for excessive bleeding especially in cases of menstrual blood loss. Trillium is a natural uterine tonic and can be used as a douche for treatment of leukorrhea. Trillium has been used to stimulate contractions in labor, it is contraindicated during pregnancy because of this. Trillium is a remedy for diarrhea. Made into a poultice or salve it is useful for external sores and chronic skin problems. Henriette has a good article here

Use Only Cultivated Sources
Good alternatives are Raspberry leaf (as an astringent for the female reproductive system) and Motherwort. Use Shepard's Purse as antihemorrhagic and astringent
Resource Planting for the Future Saving Our Medicinal Herbs United Plant Savers pg 226-229


Kiva Rose said...

How beautiful! I love Trilliums, and back when I lived in northern Pennsylvania our front yard was full of gorgeous red trilliums, and white ones grew nearby as well. A lovely plant that I miss. Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts.

Angie Goodloe LMT, Herbalist said...

Thank you Kiva! There are still areas around here where they are abundant, although not as many as 20 years ago because of all of the housing development, the new houses here don't even have yards. I feel blessed just to have my 10,000 square feet. This plant is one of my favorites.