Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum; also called Adder’s Tongue, Dogtooth Violet) is a common, widespread wildflower that blooms in early spring. I find it growing on a wide variety of sites, including rich woodlands, forest edges and old, abandoned pastureland succeeding to woody plants.
Viewed closely when the lighting and background are just right, the nodding yellow flowers with reflexed petals are a beautiful woodland sight. A pair of mottled leaves, somewhat resembling the dorsal coloring of a Brook Trout, are prominent at the base of the flower stalk. Trout Lily is colony-forming and it is not unusual to find dozens of crowded plants in a small area, devoid of flowers. I can’t explain this phenomenon completely, but the lack of flowers is reportedly a function of crowding, plant age, site quality and/or browsing by herbivores.
All photos by NB Hunter