Content Detail

Great white trillium is a popular species of trillium. It produces large, showy, bright white flowers from mid-spring to early summer. It prefers average to moist, well-drained soils that are rich in humus. Great white trillium is a great addition to a shade garden, native garden, or naturalized woodland. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Trillium
  • Family (botanic) Trilliaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

At maturity, great white trillium is between 1 to 1 ½ feet tall and three-quarters to 1 foot wide. This species spreads slowly through underground stem structures (rhizomes) and self-seeding.

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

Great white trillium is native to the Eastern and Central United States. C Value: 9.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Great white trillium attracts some small bee species. Ants are attracted to the seeds, which they help to distribute.

Leaf description:

Great white trillium produces a single whorl of three, medium green leaves. The leaves are ovate and taper at the tip and base, with a diameter of up to 6 inches. The edges of the leaves are smooth, and the veins give the leaves a slightly wrinkled appearance.

Flower description:

The flowers of great white trillium are produced on individual stalks (pedicels) at the terminal ends of the stems, above the leaves. They are up to 4 inches in diameter. The flowers have three broad, white petals that form a tube at the base and recurve slightly. The petals of this species of trillium are more ovate than the petals of other trillium species. Emerging from the center of the petals are six pollen-bearing structures (stamens) and a three-parted structure (divided style). Surrounding the base of the petals are three green, leaflike sepals. As the flower ages, the petals will turn light pink.

Fruit description:

Great white trillium produces a six-angled seed capsule that opens to release many seeds upon maturity. They are globose and begin as a pale green before maturing to a russet color.

Plant Care:

Great white trillium does not transplant well. This species will go dormant by midsummer and will die back. It may require supplemental watering in dry conditions.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Slugs and snails can be minor pests of great white trillium. This species is often eaten by deer, which can devastate populations. It is generally free of disease.


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