Dallas Trout Lily sightings are now being reported! The delicate and small flowers are among the first harbingers of spring. The species in the metroplex have exquisite nodding one-inch white flowers tinged with lavender. The delicate petals re-curve upward towards the light. The pointy lily-like leaf is only about 3-4 inches tall.
The lilies poke-up through the thick carpet of leaves on the forest floor and give surprising delight to the casual passerby. Trout Lilies dwell in woodland habitats and appear before the trees bud so that they have optimal sunlight. They thrive on slopes.
The common name in our area, Trout Lily, refers to its light green leaves that are mottled with purplish-grey spots. Someone once thought the leaves resembled the coloring of a speckled trout, hence the name. Another common name is Dogtooth Violet and refers to the toothlike edges of the leaves. This common name is usually used further to the north of Dallas.
For the first six years of a Trout Lilies’ life, it is a lonely solitary leaf. Only in its seventh season does it grow two leaves and one flower. While their life is one of patience before flowering, the colonies often have an abundance of plants. Sometimes over 300. The flowers wither in a few days and produce a capsule with three seeds. The capsule deposits the seed to the ground for more plants.
In the Dallas area, the plants appear about the last week in February through the middle of March. By the end of March, there is no evidence of the Trout Lilies. They disappear until the following year. This makes their appearance a game of chance for the enthusiasts who check the forest and peak among the leave in anticipation of their arrival. News spreads fast and walks at nearby nature preserves and parks are hurriedly scheduled and confirmed. Trout Lily visitors are delighted to be outside in the spring and see the delicate beauties.
Naturalists Tom Frey said on a recent walk, “For me one of the most fascinating things about the trout lily is that the entire annual cycle is completed in just 8 to 10 weeks each spring and then hibernates the rest of the year. A lot to do; sprouting, flowering, setting seed, and recharging the rest of the plant, in a very short time”.
Another interesting, but little known fact about the amazing Trout Lily is how the seeds are spread. Ants are attracted to the seed for the whitish coating. The ants drag the seed to their mound/den, eat the outer coating and then leave the intact seed to germinate.
While you can find Trout Lilies on your own, it is fun to go on a guided tour. Check out the following lists and websites for specifics, and enjoy the game and beauty of Dallas Trout Lily sightings!
Locations of abundant populations:
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center (Cedar Hill) http://dogwoodcanyon.audubon.org
Spring Creek Forest Preserve (Garland) http://springcreekforest.org
Oak Point Park (Plano) http://plano.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/23
Heard Museum (McKinney) heardmuseum.org
Tandy Hills Natural Area (Ft. Worth) tandyhills.org
In lesser quantities:
White Rock Lake (Dallas) http://dallasparks.org/235/White-Rock-Lake
Breckinridge Park (Richardson) http://cor.net/index.aspx?page=638
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve (Plano) http://plano.gov/facilities/facility/details/Arbor-Hills-Nature-Preserve-20
Trout Lilies are also even found in peoples’ yards!
Check the North Texas Master Naturalists Calendar on their Website each February for scheduled Dallas Trout Lily Sightings: http://public.ntmn.org/calendar
More Detailed Blog: http://dallastrinitytrails.blogspot.com/2013/03/catching-white-trout-lily-bloom.html
Tom Frey, Naturalists
Jim Varnum, North Texas Master Naturalists specializing in Botany and Trout Lilies
Bob Richie, North Texas Master Naturalists specializing in Edible/Medicinal Plants
Kristi Kerr Leonard, North Texas Master Naturalists specializing in Educating Kids in Nature