Trillium sessile

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: wood lily 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Melanthiaceae
Native Range: Northeastern United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Maroon to brownish purple to dark red
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
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.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Trillium sessile, sometimes commonly called toad trillium, is a Missouri native that grows up to 12" high. An unbranched, naked stem is topped by three, evenly-spaced, sessile, ovate, dark green, leaf-like bracts (up to 4" long) that are mottled with purple or white. The flower (2" high) features three erect petals of variable color (maroon to brownish purple to dark red) and appears stalkless atop the center of the three-leaf whorl. Flowers have a musky fragrance. 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.

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 stalk-less.

The trillium is a simple, graceful perennial that is one of the most familiar and beloved of the spring woodland wildflowers. Leaves, petals and sepals of all trilliums come in groups of three.


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.