While other wildflowers bloom earlier (such as skunk cabbage and palmate coltsfoot) the western trillium (Trillium ovatum) is close behind. It also is common to see it going by the name “western wake-robin” since it is one of the earlier species to bloom. I know many people who feel that spring really is here once they see their first one blooming along a local trail or on their property! We are very fortunate to have numerous places on our property where they grow much to our enjoyment. However, if you are not this lucky there are many close-by locations you are sure to see them now. Walk the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and they will be emerging along the moist hillsides and streams that you find in the semi-shaded regions. Most trails within the Tiger Mountain State Forest as well as the easy stroll to Twin Falls out east of North Bend all offer prime viewing. Likewise, they often are seen in large quantities on most semi-shaded moist slope along any hiking trail in the lower elevations of the Cascades. Very often you will see them growing along with ferns, salal, and yellow violets (which bloom at essentially the same time). You can certainly see where this flower got its name from by taking a closer look at the plant. Most of the structure of the trillium, such as leaves, pedals, flower parts, etc…) are exactly three in number. If not, they are in multiples of three. What a perfectly designed native flower! The flower grows from the top of a very sturdy stalk which rises out of the ground from the rhizome, which is the “storage root” of the plant.
I highly recommend if you already have a location within your garden which is landscaped as a native garden to consider adding the western trillium to the mix! It is available in fall as rhizomes from a number of native plant growers in the Pacific Northwest. But whether you have them in your yard or not be sure to try and sneak a peek at this triumphant signaling of “The Official Start of Spring”!