Kentucky Nature Preserves Rare Plants

Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission

Least Trillium
Trillium pusillum
Family: Liliaceae

Protection Status:
State Status:  E
USFWS Status: {null}

Global Rank: G3
State Rank: S1

This species occurs in two somewhat distinct habitats in Kentucky which probably helps to delimit two varities (var. ozarkanum and another that has not formally been described). The two habitat types are depression swamps and slopes of thin-canopied oak-hickory forests.

Species Description:
A dwarf species of Trillium known from the coastal plain, the Appalachians, the Ozarks, and Texas, with white flowers deepening through pink, and rose to purple.

Flowering Period: Mid March to late May.

Additional Information at NatureServe

Diagnostic Characteristics:
Plants are more than 8 cm tall and found on acid soils rather than base-rich limestones. Leaves are lance-elliptic to lance-ovate, 2 times longer than wide, 1-3 cm wide and often more than 4.5 cm in length. Flowers are white turning pink and fruiting stem (peduncle) erect.

Some tree removal could be beneficial in maintaining the open character of these forests with careful implementation of the practice. Hand removal of trees in the vicinity of the population is recommended. Exotic pest plants are a threat. Roads and other disturbance could result in weed/pest invasion and erosion that would degrade the habitat for this species.

Global Range:
South from Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, and west to Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas. Texas and Louisiana plants are now considered to belong to a different species, Trillium texanum, formerly treated as a variety of Trillium pusillum.

Known Kentucky Occurrences:

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Data last updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
801 Teton Trail
Frankfort,KY 40601
Phone: (502) 573-2886
Fax: (502) 573-2355
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