The Trilliaceae Family: Trillium Seed

Germination of Trillium Seed


Germination of Trillium seed is difficult, yet should be straight-forward; Nature does it all the time. According to Russell Graham, a nurseryman in Oregon, fresh Trillium seed should be kept warm and moist for 90 to 120 days. During this time, the seed should germinate -- a root will emerge from the seed. In general, trillium seedlings do not produce a green leaf during their first season.

After germination occurs, the sprouted seeds need to be kept damp and cool for 90 to 120 days. The sequence here is clearly summer conditioning followed by germination followed in turn by cold stratification or vernalization.

It does not seem that light is necessary from many Trillium seeds to germinate. Mr. Graham reports that his seed often germinate in the dark. A word has been copined for the mode of germination and growth: "skotomorphogenesis." I.e. skoto (dark) + morpho (body) + genesis (growth). I did not invent this word. It just means that the seedling develops in the dark, underground, for almost a year before sending a green leaf up to find the light.

For more on some of the species of Trillium:

Other Sources of Information

Links to Trillium information on the Web

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James E. Shields,

Last revised: 18 December 2009

© Copyright 2009 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.