Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Wakerobin, Stinking Benjamin
Trillium erectum

Family: Trilliaceae
Genus: Trillium (TRIL-ee-um) (Info)
Species: erectum (ee-RECK-tum) (Info)

8 vendors have this plant for sale.

23 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)
USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
Scarlet (Dark Red)
Pale Green
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

Click thumbnail
to view:

By mosquitoflats
Thumbnail #1 of Trillium erectum by mosquitoflats

By poppysue
Thumbnail #2 of Trillium erectum by poppysue

By Evert
Thumbnail #3 of Trillium erectum by Evert

By ulfhocke
Thumbnail #4 of Trillium erectum by ulfhocke

By Linnea
Thumbnail #5 of Trillium erectum by Linnea

By MeggMopp
Thumbnail #6 of Trillium erectum by MeggMopp

By Galanthophile
Thumbnail #7 of Trillium erectum by Galanthophile

There are a total of 28 photos.
Click here to view them all!


5 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive FlyPoison On Aug 14, 2014, FlyPoison from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

A very difficult plant to grow in the piedmont of SC/NC but well worth the effort. Prefers wetter/rich soils.

Neutral caseyann On Jul 15, 2012, caseyann from Livermore Falls, ME wrote:

I grew up finding the stinkin' benjamin in the woods behind my home in Livermore Falls, Maine. Back in the early 90s I remember even picking the flower as a child and having my mother tell me I couldn't bring it in the house because it smelled like rotting meat! I would never pick this endangered flower now ( although interestingly, I grew up with an avid florist mother, and we kids knew not to touch pink lady slippers and indian pipe because they were protected. )

Neutral jleigh On May 16, 2010, jleigh from Ballston Lake, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

I recently saw a ton of the purple variety growing happily while on a hike in the Adirondack park. I am glad to see this plant, which I have seen listed as endangered in many states, thriving in this area.
I really wanted to take some home to my wooded garden, but in some states even picking the flowers is illegal, so I did not.

I do have to say they smelled horrible though... So perhaps they are better enjoyed from a distance anyway.

Positive Malus2006 On Apr 11, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

For those of us who live in alkaline or neutral regions, this species, Trillium erectum, which is often sold second only to Trillium grandiflorum in volume of trillium sold, is much more difficult to grow as T. erectum loves acidic soil. My grandma which have clay soil near a big old crabapple (now sadly dying) have a good size patch of it while in my yard many attempts to introduce them, includes even under evergreen trees had failed - the last planting have a few plants surived - they were almost unnoticed because they have white petals but a closer look last year confirms them to be T. erectum due to their smaller petals and darker flower center. I have never found a red one yet.

Edited Late May 2008: I have three huge trillium that after they opened their buds (I thought they were nodding trillum because of their leaf shapes) opened to reveal that they are red trillium! The smell of the flowers is just interesting not unpleasured - more like some kind of wine mixed with some kind of fermented fruit.

The flowers and the size of the plant vary over a large range as some of the pictures to the left had already shown - Author Case said that the longer petal forms tend to be part of its northern range while the smaller petals are the southern part of its range. They are not native to Minnesota. I also have the creamy white form which almost look like a separate species from the maroon form - the leaves are narrower and the petals are longer than the maroon form.

Positive milkbonehappy On Oct 11, 2007, milkbonehappy from Chester, VT (Zone 5a) wrote:

Very common to find this plant in the woods near my house in Vermont. Lovely flower but relatively brief bloom time in spring.

Positive mgarr On May 2, 2007, mgarr from Hanover Twp., PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

A true plant for the shade woodland garden. It will self-sow very slowly because it takes 7 years from seed germination to a mature flowering plant, loves rich, acid soil.

Neutral joanvt On Jun 4, 2004, joanvt from Brattleboro, VT wrote:

This is wild in my mother-in-law's back yard. It's intermingled with the myrtle and a few plants pop up every year.

Positive MeggMopp On Jun 3, 2004, MeggMopp from Redford, MI wrote:

I have found this in my shady back yard in Redford, MI

Neutral poppysue On May 13, 2002, poppysue from Westbrook, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is one of the most common trillium species on the eastern coast and can be found growing wild in moist, rich woods. The common name "Stinking Benjamin" refers to the foul odor of the flower which attracts carrion flies for pollination. Seeds develop inside a red, oval berry in late summer and early fall.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama
Cottondale, Alabama
Juneau, Alaska
Suffield, Connecticut
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Madison, Maine
South China, Maine
Sumner, Maine
Oakland, Maryland
Dracut, Massachusetts
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Redford, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Cornish, New Hampshire
Newport, New Hampshire
Tilton, New Hampshire
Wilmot, New Hampshire
Ballston Lake, New York
Crown Point, New York
Willsboro, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Salem, Oregon
Tidioute, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Cookeville, Tennessee
Brattleboro, Vermont
Chester, Vermont (2 reports)
Newport Center, Vermont
Williamsville, Vermont
Leesburg, Virginia

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