Sidewalk Nature: Trout Lily

I specialize in sidewalk nature—because it’s the nature most of us have—so woodland spring ephemerals do not usually qualify. But this trout lily does. It was blooming next to the road, one short leap over the drainage gully.
And not just one trout lily, but a whole school of them, dappled and nodding alongside a steep stream that empties into a parking lot.

Trout lily is always a gift to find at the right place and time, but even more so now, when passersby are in particular need of a gift.
We need beauty.
We need a glimpse of the natural world working as it ought.

If you go look, note the color of the anthers: the male bits of the flower that poke down with the pollen. Sometimes the pollen matches the color of the anthers, and sometimes it doesn’t: either can be yellow or orange or the color of paprika. One function of the color variation is thought to be pollinator appeal: some pollinators fancy one color over another.
This topic, I admit, is only mildly interesting to me, but it does give me one more thing to look for,
notice, appreciate as I tiptoe near a trout lily and squat and stare,
and for one precious breath or two,
think about nothing
but trout lily.

IMG_9445.jpeg
Erythronium americanum: Yellow Trout Lily

 

o o o o o

Where: Deep Well entrance to Warner Park, off Hwy 100. Drive all the way to the end of the lot. The quick way to see them is to jump over the closest stream (look for the blooming cottonwood overhead! Cottonwood bud scales and the tree’s male flowers are already on the ground!). A few yards up the car-free road, look to the left and find the steep stream that hugs the hill. The trout lilies are there. Be sure to protect them from feet and dogs and picking: they need to stay. (It takes a trout lily 8 years to grow old enough to flower.)

More info about yellow trout lily at IllinoisWildflowers.com.

The Trout Lily Project with more info on anther color vs pollen color.

o o o o

About the author:

My Instagram feed is 100% nature, and most of it the Sidewalk kind.
No selfies. No shots of my teacup unless there is an interesting plant or animal floating in it.

I hate facebook, but some people are on it who aren’t on Instagram, so I post nature things there from time to time.

Bio: Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world. Her essays have appeared in Brevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals. She writes about everyday natural wonders amid everyday habitat loss at SidewalkNature.com and @Jo_Brichetto on Instagram. Her current project is a book of linked essays called Paradise in a Parking Lot.

 

 

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