Trillium is a genus of about 40-50 species of perennial herbaceous flowering plants, native to temperate regions of North America and Asia. They used to be treated in the family Trilliaceae or Trillium family, a part of the Liliales or Lily order. The AGP II treats Trilliaceae as a synonym of the family Melanthiaceae. Common names include Trillium, wakerobin, and birthroot.
In the east of North America, the most common is Trillium grandiflorum (Large-flowered Trillium). This plant has a large, often white, three-petaled flower above three broad leaves. Along with its three sepals, it's easy to see where Trillium got its name, which it was given by Linnaeus. Trillium grandiflorum is often the first wildflower noticed by casual walkers; other spring wildflowers are much less apparent.
Western Wake Robin Trillium ovatumIn western North America, a typical species is Trillium ovatum (Western Trillium) also with white flowers.
While Trillium flowers are very attractive, some believe they should never be picked, since the three leaves below the flower are the plant's only food source and a picked Trillium may die or take many years to recover. For this reason in many areas, e.g. British Columbia, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Washington, it is illegal to pick Trilliums. While popular belief exists that it is illegal to pick Trilliums in Ontario, no such law actually exists.
Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants and mice. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage.
Some Trilliums have a flower which is bent downward, below the leaves.
Trillium grandiflorumA white Trillium serves as the emblem and official flower of the Canadian province of Ontario. It features prominently on the Franco-Ontarian flag.