June 18 • 11:07 AM

Mother Nature's wisdom 'in threes'

April 30, 2008
The ground is squishy beneath my mud-spattered, oversized rubber boots.

Stepping into the woods and over the moss and violets that make up my so called lawn feels like walking across a thick, light green sponge.

Frogs are singing, literally, engaged in a whirring musical dialogue. Universal language I suddenly believe I understand.

Like bright neon lights, a gently undulating mound of pure white trillium draw my eyes. A flash here. Another over there. Like the mossy earth, the boggy woods are springing to life.

Trillium grow wildly, naturally in this little plot of land that I revere and treasure. Each spring I pay homage to their gentle emergence—always awed by their bright blooms and shiny forest green leaves.

The holy trinity of the woods, the flower's Latin name means "in threes." Three leaves, three petals, three sepals and three stigmas. Three times the beauty, three times the mystery. And I am the fortunate recipient of the plants' triple blessing each and every spring, right in my own back yard.

I leave the untouched by anything except my eyes, they're too fragile for anything else. And like me, they have struggled long and hard for their place in the woods.

It takes a trillium 15 years to grow from seed to flower, which is why they're listed as endangered in Michigan and several other states. It's even illegal to pick one here, so they are one of nature's gifts that only Mother Earth herself can possess. I'm just feeling lucky that she's always willing to share.

Trilliums are members of the lily family and plant their roots in rich, moist but well drained woods. They prefer shady areas but need a little filtered light to thrive.

They like the cooler temperatures of shade, but they'll grow and often spread more vigorously if the forest is somewhat open.

They're apparently as tasty as they are beautiful to some creatures. Deer and woodchucks enjoy munching on their flowers, and therefore can have an extremely negative effect on the plant's survival.

Aside from admiring their snow white blooms—or in some cases rich burgundy-red flowers—humans have developed a relationship with trilliums too.

Native Americans used the plant as an antiseptic and nerve tonic.

According to plantwatch.sunsite, "the leaves were boiled in lard and applied to ulcers as a poultice, and also used to restrict gangrene. The roots were used to ease fevers and upset stomach."

The plant also used to be called "birthroot" because of its use to ease childbirth for women.

Though no part of the trillium is considered safe for human consumption, those who use flower essences to help balance their physical, mental and spiritual health have high praise for the trillium flower.

The essence is used to address feelings of disconnectedness to all of life, to help restore the truth that there is a "oneness" to everything.

Trillium flower essence is believed to help integrate your own personal energy with that of the universe, to reconnect the circuit with life and all that is.

Maybe that's why I feel so awestruck when near them. Their peaceful, pure white blossoms. Their homeful emergence each spring. Their delicate, fragile beauty that insists on living in the woods, no matter how tough it can be.

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Castle Creek
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