Someone mentioned on Facebook yesterday that most kids today had no idea that the Trillium was Ontario’s flower and no idea about it’s history and a light bulb went off.
So thank you Matthew for your comment and idea– and here is your 101 and then some…. For all of you adults and the kids:)
The trillium is my absolute favourite wildflower. Every Spring my mother would excitedly tell my sister and me that they were once again in bloom. Out the back door and away we would go, exploring the woods until we came upon the hollow where the trilliums covered the place like a fairyland.
My favourite thing to do in the Spring is to visit the Mill of Kintail just outside of Almonte when the trillium are in bloom. Almost magical–the trillium, a three-petalled white flower exquisitely tinged with purple as are scattered among the trails just past the little bridge. They can be seen all through Lanark County and I have also put a photo of the Beckwith Nature Trail below.
The adoption of an official flower for Ontario in 1937 grew out of a movement during the First World War to choose a national floral emblem appropriate for planting on the graves of Canadian servicemen overseas. Although it was well received, no national flower was ever chosen, but the white trillium was chosen as Ontario’s floral emblem.
Mill of Kintail Trillium Loop
There is a still a common belief that it is illegal in Ontario to pick white-trillium flowers because of its status as the province’s emblem. Actually common gossip was that if you accidentally stepped on a trillium the Mounties would swarm out of the woods and arrest you! While there is no such law, it is not advisable to pick the flowers because it takes so many years to produce one and the plant may take years to recover from the damage. Anyone who has visited a forested area in the spring in our region is familiar with Ontario’s floral emblem, the white trillium.
Many gardeners have failed to grow trilliums in the past because thirty or so years ago the only supply came from wild-collected roots that had dried out in transit. It was impossible to grow these plants then: they simply never got going. Twenty years ago nurserymen began to grow pot-grown specimens raised from seeds and it became possible to buy a healthy trillium that would do well in the garden.
According to “ginsengers”, this group of flowers, as well as Jack in the Pulpit; are good indicators of soil favourable for growing wild ginseng. Maybe the *Watt Brothers in Lanark knew something about this when they had their *Ginseng Company near the village.
Did you know that trilliums are edible and medicinal? The flower has a long history of use by Native Americans and the young edible unfolding leaves are an excellent addition to salad tasting somewhat like sunflower seeds. The root is used as an alternative medicine and is antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, and ophthalmic. The roots, fresh or dry, may be boiled in milk and used for diarrhea and dysentery. Yes, we still get dysentery- and it’s just not for the history books.
Sometimes the raw root is grated and applied as a poultice to the eye in order to reduce swelling, or on aching rheumatic joints. The leaves were once boiled in lard and applied to ulcers as a poultice, and to prevent gangrene. An infusion of the root is used in the treatment of cramps and a common name for the plant, birthroot’, originated from its use to promote menstruation. Some of the root bark can be used as drops in treating earache. Constituents found in the volatile and fixed oils are, tannic acid, saponin, a glucoside resembling convallamarin, sulphuric acid and potassium dichromate, gum, resin, and starch.
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun
Folklore: Used to facilitate childbirth, and to treat other female problems by the women of many Native American tribes. Trillium root was considered to be a sacred female herb and they only spoke of it to their medicine women.
Medicinal drink: Add 1 tsp. herb decoction to 1 cup warm milk, take at bedtime for diarrhea.
Mark Piper has added— To the tune of the Flowers that Bloom in the Spring (from the Mikado):
Arrest from the Red-Coated men, tra la
If you step on that poor Trillium.
Arrest from the Mounties in red, tra la
For assault on Ontario’s emblem.
So that’s what we mean when we say when we sing
Except for the Trilliums, step on anything.
Tra la la la la, Tra la la la la, Tra la la la la la.
Trillium Time-The AC is On..click here