One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Today we have one of those plants that many human readers pass by in our spring woods.

Mystery #114Any guesses for what it is?

And while you’re thinking on that one, I want to note that I missed an anniversary of the Nature’s Mystery column last week. Three years! I (Hickory squirrel, in case you’re a new reader!) started the column April 15, 2012, to fill in the Sunday gaps when Nutmeg first started The Squirrel Nutwork blog with the Blogging A to Z Challenge. She had Sundays off for good behavior, and we all thought she needed the break, but felt our readers might like a different kind of challenge.

Check out that first mystery post, with a cameo photo of yours truly. Today, we are officially on Mystery #114. You can search for the past mysteries by putting in the words ‘nature’s mysteries’ in the search bay above our archives.

Have fun!


We had a correct guess for the family of this spring-blooming native plant! It is a trillium, the Toad Trillium, Trillium sessile, which some of you human readers also call Sessile Trillium. The three little red parts in the center of the three leaves are the flower. It’s one of those non-showy things that Ms. Flora swoons over and the rest of us miss.

The smell this one gives off isn’t what you think of for flowers either–a bit stinky–so I’m not sure why she goes a gaga. Something about how unusual Trilliums are around here. If we squirrels don’t see many, I’m sure you humans consider them a rare treat as well. Of course with the mottled leaves and dark flower, the Toad Trillium is harder to spot than the other trillium we have in northern Virginia, the Large-flowered Trillium, Trillium grandiflorum.

Large-flowered Trillium

It’s a bit hard to tell, but the flower on this one is lifted above the leaves on a short stalk. The name describes the flower pretty well, huh? The Sessile Trillium name does too. The flower sits low on the leaves. Sessilis means ‘low sitting’ in Latin.

This was a fun mystery! Hope you get to see some trilliums in your neck of the woods!


7 thoughts on “One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

  1. I don’t know the main plant, but I see a little bit of what we call Dutchman’s Breeches in the background. They come and go quickly in the spring and their flowers look like a little pair of bloomer pants.

    • Good eye, Sarasinart! This is a pretty rich portion of woodlands. Other plants below the three-leaved one ( I should have pointed out THAT’s the mystery plant!) include Wild Strawberry (with the runners) and Speedwell (with the little blue flower).
      Thanks for leaping by today!

      • Thanks. We have speedwell and wild strawberries here too, but I don’t think I’ve seen the main plant, so I’ll be curious when you tell us what it is. Your mysteries are fun, and happy anniversary to Hickory, who gives us good mysteries.

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