Gulf South Research Corporation

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Trailing Trillium

Trillium decumbens

Trillium decumbens
Trailing Trillium
Trailing trillium

State Heritage Status Rankings

Alabama (S3S4), Georgia (S3), Tennessee (S1)


Trailing trillium is a perennial herbaceous trillium with a reclining stem (Carman 2001). The scape is more-or-less decumbent in a gentle S-shape with the leaves lying on the ground, or nearly so (Weakley 2003). It has 3 broad, sessile leaves that are whorled around the stem (Carman 2001). The leaves are mottled with 2 to 3 different shades of green and very rarely the mottling is not apparent (Weakley 2003). The maroon to brownish-purple, sessile flower has a putrid aroma. The petals are 4 to 10 cm in length and the filaments are 2 to 5 mm in length, the stamens are approximately 1 quarter the length of the petals (Weakley 2003 and Carman 2001). The 2 anthers dehiscence extrorse (towards the outside of the flower) (Weakley 2003).


Trailing trillium inhabits moist, rich deciduous forests on wooded slopes and along streams.


Trailing trillium is uncommon to rare in the southeastern United States, being found in northwestern Georgia, southeastern Tennessee (Polk County), and north central Alabama. Weakley (2003) reports that the extreme southwestern portion of North Carolina should be searched for the presence of the species. Trailing trillium is highly threatened by forest management practices, and to a lesser extent by land-use conversion and habitat fragmentation (NatureServe 2003).


  • Carman, J. B. 2001. Wildflowers of Tennessee. Higland Rim Press, Tullahoma, Tennessee. p. 373.
    Wildfowers of Tennessee

  • NatureServe. 2003. Internet Resource. NatureServe.

  • Radford, A.E., Ahles, H.E., Bell, C.R. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

  • USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. Internet Resource USDA Plants Database. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

  • Weakley, A.S. July 2003. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia, Working Draft as of September 26, 2003.
    Internet Resource. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia. (Accessed December 8, 2003). pp. 714-717