Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) is an early spring bloomer that can be found before the trees leaf out in the lower elevations of the Smoky Mountains. However, I have seen it blooming much later near the 6000 foot level along the Clingman’s Dome Road.
Trout Lily often forms large colonies by way of their root system, making a very attractive display in moist wooded areas. The leaves are a long, elliptical pair with the distinctive brown mottling that gives the flower its common name. Another common name is Dogtooth Violet – dogtooth referring to the hard white roots.
This wildflower performs a unique function in nature. Their roots retrieve phosphorus from the soil and transfer it to the leaves. Grazing wildlife such as deer eat the leaves for a valuable source of the mineral.
After your wildflower pilgrimages, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.