Herbs & Plants

Erythronium americanum

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Botanical Name ; Erythronium americanum
Family: Liliaceae
Genus: Erythronium
Species: E. americanum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Liliales

Synonyms: Serpent’s Tongue. Dog’s Tooth Violet. Yellow Snowdrop.

Common Names: Trout lily, Yellow trout lily, Yellow dogtooth violet, Adder’s Tongue

Habitat : Erythronium americanum is native to eastern United States of America, from New Brunswick to Florida, and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas.
It is found in colonies that can be up to 300 years old.
Erythronium americanum is a herbaceous flowering plant in the lily family. It is a low growing plant with two tulip-like, green and purple mottled leaves, the appearance of which led to the common name trout lily. Elegant, 1″ long, yellow flowers rise above the groundcover-forming foliage on delicate bare stems. It is more common, and similar to the Erythronium albidum which is larger and has white flowers.

The plant, which is quite smooth, grows from a small, slender, ovoid, fawn-coloured corm, 1/3 to 1 inch long which is quite deeply buried in the soil and is of solid, firm consistence and white and starchy internally.
The stem is slender, a few inches high, and bears near the ground, on footstalks 2 to 3 inches long, a pair of oblong, dark-green, purplish-blotched leaves, the blades about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide, minutely wrinkled, with parallel, longitudinal veins. The stem terminates in a handsome, large, pendulous, lily-like flower, an inch across, with the perianth divisions strongly recurved, bright yellow in colour, often tinged with purple and finely dotted within at the base, and with six stamens. It flowers in the latter part of April and early in May.


The common name “Trout lily” refers to the appearance of its gray-green leaves mottled with brown or gray, which allegedly resemble the coloring of brook trout.It blooms in early spring with nodding one-inch yellow flowers, the petals (3) and petal-like sepals (3) recurved upward. Each plant sends up a single flower stem with a pair of leaves.

Cultivation & propagation :
Best grown in moist, acidic, humusy soils in part shade to full shade. Plants may be grown from seed, but will not flower for 4-5 years. Quicker and better results are obtained from planting corms which are sold by many bulb suppliers and nurseries. In addition, offsets from mature plants may be harvested and planted. Plant corms 2-3” deep and 4-5” apart in fall. Corms of this species produce stolons, and plants will slowly spread to form large colonies if left undisturbed in optimum growing conditions. These native plants do not transplant well and should be left alone in the wild. This is a spring ephemeral whose foliage disappears by late spring as the plant goes dormant.

Medicinal Uses:
Generally used as a poultice for ulcers and skin troubles. An infusion of the leaves is taken for the relief of skin problems and for enlarged glands. Various oil infusions and ointments made from the leaf and spike have been used to treat wounds, and poultices of the fresh leaves have been applied to soothe and heal bruises. The bulbs of the plant have been recorded as emetic and as a substitute for Colchicium in the treatment of gout. In the fresh state it has been reported to be a remedy for scurvy. It is often used to treat scrofulous skin arising from tubercular infection. Can mix the expressed juice with cider for internal use. Must be used fresh.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.