Trillium recurvatum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: prairie wake robin 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Melanthiaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Purple to brownish purple
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful


Easily grown in rich, humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Needs regular watering. Rhizomatous plant that is difficult to propagate from seed. Spreads very gradually if left undisturbed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Trillium recurvatum is a simple, graceful perennial that is one of the most familiar and beloved of the spring woodland wildflowers. Leaves, petals and sepals all come in groups of three. This species, sometimes commonly called bloody butcher, is a Missouri native that grows to 15" high. An unbranched, naked stem is topped by three, evenly-spaced, lanceolate to rounded, dark green, leaf-like bracts (4" long). Bracts are mottled with purple. The flower (1.75" high) features purple to brownish-purple, erect and clawed petals with three reflexed (turned down) sepals, and appears stalkless atop the center of the three-leaf whorl. A clump-forming plant with stems arising from thick, underground rhizomes which will spread slowly if left undisturbed. Foliage will usually die to the ground by mid-summer, particularly if the soil is allowed to dry out. Trillium recurvatum f. luteum is a synonym formerly used for plants with yellow flowers.

Genus name means "triple lily", in reference to how all the main parts of the plant occur in threes. Linnaeus originally placed this genus in the Liliaceae family.

Specific epithet means curved backwards.


No serious insect or disease problems. This flower does not transplant well and should not be dug in the wild.


A classic spring-blooming, woodland wildflower. Excellent when massed in a shaded woodland garden, naturalized area or wildflower garden. Mixes well with other spring wildflowers and ferns. Not recommended for the perennial border.