Erythronium americanum Ker

Erythronium americanum plant

Family - Liliaceae

Stems - Plants acaulescent, from a scaly bulb.

Leaves - Basal, petiolate, typically two per fertile plant, (one leaf on sterile plants). Blades glabrous, entire, fleshy to subsucculent, acute to acuminate, mottled with silver above, green below, linear-elliptic to ovate-elliptic, to +20cm long, +5cm broad.

Erythronium americanum leaves

Inflorescence - Single flower terminating peduncle (scape), typically only one per plant. Flower nodding. Peduncle glabrous, to +15cm tall.

Flowers - Tepals 6, yellow to brownish, glabrous, entire, 4.5-5cm long, 7-8mm broad, recurved in flower, glabrous. Stamens 6, adnate to base of tepals. Filaments to 1.7cm long, 1.5mm broad, yellow, glabrous. Anthers 1.3cm long, purple. Ovary 1.3cm long, 3-angled, 3-locular, green, glabrous, superior. Placentation axile. Style 6mm long, expanded at apex. Stigma hollow at apex, lobed, yellow.

Erythronium americanum flower

Erythronium americanum flower

Flowering - March - May.

Habitat - Low rich woods, along streams, wooded slopes.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking species is found mainly in the lower 1/3 of Missouri. The yellow flowers are easy to spot against the leaf litter of the woods. This species can be found in colonies of sterile, one-leaved plants along with a few fertile, two-leaved plants.
Traditionally the bulbs and leaves of this species were eaten, either raw or cooked. The plant was also used medicinally to heal ulcers and as a contraceptive. The plant is believed to be mildly emetic and antibiotic.

Photographs taken at Hanging Rock State Park, NC., 3-22-03.


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