Erythronium albidum (er-ih-THRO-nee-um / AL-bi-dum) White Trout Lily
Erythronium americanum (er-ih-THRO-nee-um / a-mer-i-KAY-num) Yellow Trout Lily
Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee), the Lily Family

The Trout Lily is one of our iconic spring ephemerals that everybody should know.  We’re lucky in St. Louis that we have 2 to choose from – a white one (Erythronium albidum) and a yellow one (Erythronium americanum).

The surest way to get comfortable with these friendly plants (short of actually visiting them in the field) is to watch the following four videos.  If the long “E” word (Erythronium) seems off-putting, we’ll get to hear it spoken no less than 18 times in the first two videos!  We’ll be speaking it like a diplomat in less than 14 minutes!​​

  1. For those who are unfamiliar with any kind of Erythronium, here’s an immersion VIDEO (5:36) where you can let yourself be swamped in an entire garden full of them.  You’ll see all kinds of species and you’ll hear the 5-syllable “E” word pronounced 9 times with BBC precision.
  2. Evidently “Erythronium Gardening” is a thing in the U.K. because here’s another garden VIDEO (7:34).  But this is a less prettified one where the matter-of-fact host with dirty fingernails shows us many different species and isn’t afraid to show us spent blooms and chlorotic leaves.  Not to be obsessive about this, but like in the previous video the “E” word is used 9 times.
  3. Closer to home, this VIDEO (7:29) is ostensibly about Erythronium albidum, but the “E” word is not uttered even once.  However we get to see the beautiful white flower up-close and get to revisit other spring ephemerals that we already know.  We also meet our old nemesis “Garlic Mustard” and learn why it is so destructive to the ecosystem. 
  4. This final VIDEO (3:23) is focused on the yellow Erythronium americanum.  The “E” word is never mentioned, but the presenter shows us a huge, huge patch of the plants.

Erythronium is a monocot. The monocots are different from the majority of flowering plants because about 200 million years ago they split off and went their own way.  The leaves of monocot plants tend to be long and strap-like with parallel veins.  Our Erythronium with its rubbery, mottled leaves passes that test.  The flowers of monocot plants tend to have parts in multiples of “3”.  Our Erythronium with its 3 sepals, 3 petals and 3-parted stigma passes that test too.

Want more pictures of our Trout Lilies to study?  Here are some beauties from

Want to read further about our Trout Lilies? is always reliable:

​- Michael Laschober

Flower-Spotter Week 02 (May 27-April 2)

Where to find the White Trout Lily (please protect the plants in our natural areas):

Where to find the Yellow Trout Lily (please protect the plants in our natural areas):

Please click to see a list of all our St. Louis Liliaceae  plants.