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Erythronium americanum

I still haven't figured out the origins of the four most popular "Common Names" for Erythronium americanum, "Dog Tooth Violet", "Fawn Lily", "Trout Lily" and "Adder's Tongue". Hell, I don't even know what an "Adder" is! However, I have an inkling that the name "Trout Lily" has something to do with the colorful marbling of the foliage resembling the markings on a trout. Or perhaps the way the pendulous flowers hang resembling a canine's uppers? In any case, here's a plant that everyone needs to have in their garden. One of the first flowers to bloom in a long series of native ephemeral wildflowers, Erythronium americanum lights up the garden with its curious, pendulous, bright yellow, long lasting flowers. 

Erythronium americanum, a plant in Liliaceae (The Lily Family), grows from a deep bulb and is native to almost the entire eastern US and Canada - http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ERAM5 and will grow easily anywhere in the world.

From bare ground, they seem to appear almost magically overnight with their supple, dramatically painted foliage. Then about a week later, wiry little flower stems start inching up from the center with their tight little buds ready to ready to open and signal the end of Winter and beginning of Spring.

Strangely enough, Erythronium, the name of the genus, is derived from the Greek word, Erythros, which means red. This is probably a reference to some of the other species that have red or pink flowers such as found at my friend, John Lonsdale's, website - http://www.edgewoodgardens.net/Plants_album/The%20Plants%20-%20%20Complete%20Collection/Liliaceae/Erythronium/index6.html John is one of the most adept Plantsmen and Photographers in the world. His website is methodically indexed and I warn you, if you visit there - http://www.edgewoodgardens.net/index.html you can be happily lost for hours, but will leave a much more knowledgeable gardener.

My friend, Tom Barnes, captured a great closeup of the flower - http://sunfarm.com/images/erambarnescu.jpg

There is also a rarer, white counterpart to this species and that's Erythronium albidum. If you have a "White Garden" or love white flowers, I do have a somewhat limited stock of this very difficult to find, but easy to grow plant.

Besides these two species of Erythronium, there are several others worldwide. The Pacific Bulb Society has  3 wonderfully illustrated pages to educate you about the genus -http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/ErythroniumTwo. This link is for the first page, species A-G, and there are two links at the top and bottom of this page for species H-O and P-Z. There is also an index page at - http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Erythronium

I've never seen this plant bothered by squirrels, rabbits, deer or any other plant predators. It seems very willing to set seed, but seedlings take 3-5 years to mature into flowering plants. So, with a bit of patience, you can have lovely drifts of yellow blooms. Imagine a sea of bright yellow for weeks every Spring - http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/rockymountain/WestElkScenicByway/images/erythronium-grandiflorum-lg.jpg

As I've implied, Erythronium americanum is a "no brainer" to grow. People ask me about growing conditions and I tell them that average soil is fine. They are typically a woodland plant and grow naturally in a variety of conditions but I've never seen them in wet or soggy soil. As far as shade or sun requirements go, at the time they are up and performing their magic, there are no leaves on the trees anyway. So, as I see it, they can take some sun.

I've been building a good stock of Erythronium americanum to share with you and if your ground is still frozen, not to worry, as you can specify the shipdate for your particular area in a provided space on our online PDF orderform.

What you'll receive are large, 5 year old bareroot blooming size bulbs in full, active growth. They'll arrive wrapped in long fibered, unmilled sphagnum moss. This material is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and a very useful material.

The prices shown below include FREE SHIPPING on bareroot plants out of their 2" pots. If you would like to receive the plants undisturbed, in their pots, please add .95¢ per plant to cover the extra cost of shipping soil and pots.

7   for $ 35.00  delivered ($5.00 ea)
10  for $ 45.00  delivered ($4.50 ea)
15  for $ 60.00  delivered ($4.00 ea)
20  for $ 70.00  delivered ($3.50 ea)
50  for $150.00  delivered ($3.00 ea)

Larger quantities at even lower prices upon request.

Ordering couldn't be easier! Just fill out the order form at http://www.sunfarm.com/orderform.pdf

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Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208
E-mail: barry@sunfarm.com

Last modified February 24, 2009
URL: http://www.sunfarm.com/specials/erythronium_americanum.php