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PlantFiles: Trout Lily, Adder's-Tongue
Erythronium americanum

Family: Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Erythronium (er-ih-THROH-nee-um) (Info)
Species: americanum (a-mer-ih-KAY-num) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

28 members have or want this plant for trade.


under 6 in. (15 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

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

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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9 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive appleciderman On Sep 17, 2014, appleciderman from Hartford, WI wrote:

I have been foraging Trout Lily for several years now. It is delicious raw in a salad. The stem is sweet, the leaf is like firm spinach. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, they will be firmer in texture than spinach. the stems should be removed before cooking as they turn bitter when cooked. I like to saute the leaves in a little olive oil with shallots and garlic. I have been selling these to several restaurants for the past two years along with Spring Ramps. Enjoy!

Neutral coriaceous On Sep 16, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I've seen large woodland colonies that bloom well, and others that have hardly any flowers. The latter are more common. This species (native here) is famous for its stinginess with bloom. The mottled foliage is beautiful in any case.

Gardeners talk about how bulbs of non-flowering plants have gotten too deep to flower, and how placing a flat rock a few inches below the bulb in planting can help prevent this. I've tried this trick, and failed to have the desired result.

I don't know how to induce bloom in these plants. E. x 'Pagoda', a hybrid of two rare western species, is long-lived here in the east and much more reliable with its bloom. It is also much more easily available from sellers of fall bulbs.

E. americanum is tricky to transplant. In any case, Erythronium bulbs dry out very quickly and should spend as little time aboveground as possible before planting.

Wild collecting and foraging threatens many of our native wildflowers, and is illegal on public land. In Iowa, this is a protected plant, and in three other states it's considered rare. Before collecting wild plants, check their legal status in your locality.

Positive skovener On Sep 15, 2014, skovener from Crothersville, IN (Zone 5b) wrote:

We have these lovely Spring flowers in our low-land woods by the thousands. The early bloomers are white and a little later the yellow ones bloom. Grandpa called them "Dog-tooth violets" but I prefer "Trout Lily" because they are so pretty! Here in southern Indiana the corms are only a few inches in the ground.

Positive liblamb On May 1, 2010, liblamb from Springfield, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have had this plant for two years and no blooms yet, just a single leaf from each corm. This year I noticed little white stolons coming out of the ground near them. The stolons look kind of like a long bean sprout stem. So, they are multiplying and I'm hoping for some blooms next year.

Positive dordee On Dec 14, 2009, dordee from Silex, MO wrote:

To Marie , if you want to dig a trout lily, you will have to dig deep. i have tried transplanting some i found in my woods and in some cases, i had to dig down 2 feet. if they were on the bank of th creek where spring floods washed most of the soil away, i dug only 1 foot. once you get them started and they like their new home, they do spread. at first, i pampered m
my one and only, now i can't walk without stepping on them, but i don't care, they are beautif4ul. sorry bout that, HARLEY is helping me. he is a 5 month old tiger stripe i recently adopted along with his sister 4555Dee. they are so named because they sound like a pair of Harleys. i really dod not planto keep them, but that is like saying no to just one more plant.

Positive marie_renee On Dec 8, 2009, marie_renee from Bellevue, NE wrote:

It's taken me awhile to appreciate this little plant because it comes up in my garden everywhere in early spring. Until the flower emerges, the speckled leaves make my garden appear that it is full of weeds. They seem to thrive at the woodland's edge just where my garden begins. They are not easy to pull. You have to dig the small bulbs to remove or transplant them. The flowers are white here in this corner of Nebraska. I believe they are also called dog-toothed violets.

Positive tufe On Dec 8, 2009, tufe from Newtonville, MA wrote:

For the past few years I've been growing E. 'Pagoda'...not sure if it's a cultivar of E. americanum, a hybrid or what. It has done so well here, though. It reminds me so much of walking in the Oregon mountains when I was young and admiring all the Erythroniums. I'm planting more Pagodas each year and now want to try others. I will say that people are not kidding when they say Erythroniums should be planted immediately. They go to hell so fast.

Positive D_L_Frommherz On Dec 8, 2009, D_L_Frommherz from Eugene, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I absolutely love this plant that you folks call the "Trout Lilly" I have heard someone refer to this forest Lilly the name Adder's tongue although I have never called this flower by that name. 60 years ago my father now deceased and his mother Lucy Adalia King Frommherz a widow would take my siblings and I on long walks along the railroad line between Shaw in Marion County south where the tracks would make sweeping cures to skirt old quarries, Oak Trees and pastures. Our outings would usually take use almost to the train trestle about 2 miles north of Aumsville in the mid Willamette Valley. While our town of Shaw may have pre-existed even older as this town, on the Silver Falls Highway 212 itself was only 3 miles north of the old pioneer city of Aumsville. The tracks were much longer due to the winding road on rails of the Southern Pacific. Along the way and in season we made side trips to examine Polly-wogs and Ferns and even looked forward to once again playing in the hollow trunk of an old Big Leaf Maple growing in the marsh land of the Strawberry and Cane Berry growers located at the end of our gravel road. In the meadow and along the Creek that leads several miles through our town to Beaver Creek in the early spring we were always over joyed to see the flowering yellow Lilly that grandma called the "Lamb's Tongue". While we never disturbed these plants or the Trillium and Columbine that grew in the same area for years. Following these off beaten paths came regularly for many years afterward until I grew to tall to climb through the opening into the Big Leaf Maple. I would go back again and again many times in solitary walks to clear my head of the days trials and then taking with me my own children and my partner on walks to this hallowed area where we knew and I knew that we would experience our beloved "Lamb's Tongue" Lilly. Thank you so much for allowing me to reminisce growing and learning to love our natural forests of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Daniel Lewis Frommherz December 2009.

Positive dancingbear27 On Apr 24, 2009, dancingbear27 from Elba, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

These were a beautiful surprise this spring! Last fall husband brought home a load of sand and left it in a pile due to time restrictions. This spring it is covered with beautiful yellow trout lilies! Pretty little flowers and purple spotted leaves. I've been reading on them and the one-leaf plants are just baby plants according to several articles. Guess we'll find out. Will have to find a suitable home for them now. Obviously they are pretty hardy because sand was dumped in a pile and they thrived!

Positive silverfluter On Oct 27, 2005, silverfluter from Fredericksburg, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have this plant growing under a large pecan tree. It gets whatever rain God gives plus the sprinkler in August. It's not spreading fast, but it is progressing slowly.

Neutral smiln32 On Nov 22, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

It prefers somewhat shady conditions and rich, well-drained soil. Flowers bloom in early spring. They typically grow in colonies in wooded areas. According to the "Field Guide to Medicinal Plants, Eastern and Central North America", Iroquois women ate the leaves to prevent conception and the plant has anti bacterial properties.

Neutral Weezingreens On Mar 16, 2003, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

E. americanum is a native flower of the Eastern United States, growing in damp, open woodland areas. The deeply-rooted, small fawn-colored corms colonize forming patches of the this plant among the dead leaf base of the forest floor.

Generally the infertile plants have one leaf, while the fertile plants have two. The leaves are basal, ovate, fleshy, and mottled like a trout's belly. A single flower appears on a central stem in spring. The flower is bright yellow often tinged with purple and finely freckled at the base.

The foliage dies back in summer, but reappears in the spring. This plant will grow from seed, but requires winter/spring stratification and takes 4-7 years to become a mature plant.

Neutral mystic On Nov 11, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Plant bulbs 4 inches deep in autumn in fertile, well drained soil that does not dry out. Bulbs need to be damp during storage and before planting.


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

Auburn, Alabama
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Stamford, Connecticut
Cornelia, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Marengo, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Crothersville, Indiana
Warren, Indiana
Barbourville, Kentucky
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Oakland, Maryland
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Newtonville, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Erie, Michigan
Munising, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
University Center, Michigan
Piedmont, Missouri
Silex, Missouri
Springfield, Missouri
Bellevue, Nebraska
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Phillipsburg, New Jersey
Elba, New York
Franklinville, New York
Ithaca, New York
New York City, New York
Glouster, Ohio
Lima, Ohio
Aumsville, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Tidioute, Pennsylvania
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Viola, Tennessee
Leesburg, Virginia
Madison Heights, Virginia
Reston, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Hartford, Wisconsin

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