If you grew up in the state of Maine, you probably know these flowers as Stinking Benjamins. It is easy to understand the "stinking" portion of the name, as this trillium emits the odor of rotting carrion to attract the flies it needs for pollination. However, I have often wondered how it got the name Benjamin. Like many words in the English language it comes to use via a corruption of an ancient word. It appears that Benjoin was the name of an ingredient taken from flowers in Sumatra that was used to make perfume. Hence the name Stinking Benjamin was attributed to this lovely flower. In some locations Stinking Benjamin applies to other trilliums, too, but in my part of Maine we reserve the name for the red trillium.
The red trillium (Trillium erectus) is also known as purple trillium or wake-robin. The name wake-robin may be derived from either the fact that the trillium blooms at about the same time robins return, or may be named after similar European flower. Native Americans referred to it as birthwort or birthroot, as it was used to induce labor and treat female problems.
You may have called these delightful trilliums white trilliums, but that really isn't accurate. White trilliums are pure white with no traces of red or purple in the center. This lovely flower is actually a painted trillium (Trillium undulatum). True white trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum) can be found in Maine but are more commonly found in Canada.
Trilliums belong to the lily family and reproduce via underground rhizomes, a thickened root similar to a bulb.
If you would like to add trilliums to your wildflower garden, you can purchase a collection of red, yellow and white trilliums through Direct Gardening. Each collection contains one each of the red, yellow and white trillium for under $12. They are hardy in zones 4 through 8.
I hope you enjoyed today's photos and the information about the Trillium. If you are enjoying my blog, please feel free to share it with your family and friends.
Until next time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!
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