No. 2 – Trillium.

Mottled Trillium (Trillium maculatum)

I grew up on the West Coast, which despite what you may have heard does have seasons other than summer.  The thing is, the seasonal changes are more subtle than in the rest of the country, and you need to be sensitive to the way the wind is shifting, or a particular angle of light.

I used to read with perplexity my mom’s women’s magazines, which spoke of fall leaves and snow and the rituals observed to celebrate them.  In elementary school I had a teacher who must have been from “not around here”, for she sent us out to collect fall leaves.  I think she expected us to bring back colorful maples and sycamores.  We brought back eucalyptus and bottlebrush.

So I’ve had a deep-seated quest to see certain plants that were rumored to exist, but certainly not in Southern California.  Sea Oats.  Forsythia.  Maples.  But above all, Trillium.

I got my wish this past weekend, when a good friend took me to see one in South Carolina (or maybe Georgia – it was near the border and the dominion was muddled to me).  It’s a strange mental disconnect sometimes to see in reality what you’ve seen for a lifetime only in photographs.  I’ve had the same feeling with works of art.

Anyway, entered into the Wunderkammer with awe and appreciation, I present – the trillium.  They rely on ants to propagate.   A white species is the official flower of Ohio and of Ontario.    Should you in turn be lucky enough to come across one, don’t pick it, please – they are not numerous, and some are endangered.