Trillium Size Decrease, WI  

TOPIC: Tornado book (with an assist by Lee Frelich)
== 2 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 4:58 am
From: Lee Frelich


Last weekend I visited the Door Peninsula in Lake Michigan in WI. Large
flowered trillium are so prolific this year that many maple-beech forests
looked as if there were snowdrifts on the forest floor. The trillium have
gotten smaller over the years (they used to be 24-30 inches tall, and are
now only 12-18 inches), but their flowers are still spectacular, especially
with a late spring like we have this year that delays tree leaf out so that
the spring flowers get full sun for a long time. Along Lake Michigan, sugar
maples were still mostly leafless (due to the impact of 1100 cubic miles of
42 degree water on air temperatures), although some were starting to
flower. On the relatively warm Green Bay side of the peninsula, leaves were
just beginning to emerge.

The boreal forest at the Ridges Sanctuary has several areas where the
forest floor is carpeted with the federally threatened species, Dwarf lake
iris. This is the smallest iris known, about 2 inches tall at the time of
flowering, making the dwarf iris in the southern Appalachians look like a
giant. Their neon purple flowers stand out against the brown spruce needles
of the forest floor. Trailing arbutus, and birdseye primrose were also in
bloom amid white cedars several centuries old.


== 3 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 8:09 am
From: James Parton


What would cause the Trillium to become smaller over the years?

James Parton

== 4 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 8:55 am
From: "Edward Frank"


Neat about the trilliums. I have not gotten out around here (western PA) to see if the trilliums are flowering here. Monica, Bob, and I found a couple different species in flower in Baxter Creek, GSMNP last month at the ENTS gathering. What species of trillium were flowering so profusely on the Door Peninsula? When visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI a couple years ago I remember large areas of the forest floor in some place were covered by trillium plants. It was August and they were not flowering then.

Ed Frank

== 9 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 2:58 pm


I visited the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan on the weekend of May
10th-11th, right across Lake Michigan from the Door. The trillium were
spectacular there as well. We went up there to look at the cherry
blossoms, which were not quite at peak. While we were wandering
through the woods on top of the Whaleback Nature Area, my wife found a
morel mushroom, a delicacy which sells for 60 dollars a pound at road-
side stands. Also that weekend I waded into the frigid waters of Lake
Michigan to harvest the crop of Petoskey stones that the anchor ice
and high waves had churned up over the course of the winter. I found
several dozen large, beautiful stones, which was almost worth the loss
of feeling in my legs and feet from being submerged in that ice bath
for several minutes.


== 10 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 3:13 pm
From: Lee Frelich


These are Trillium grandiflorum, the ones with the biggest flowers, up to 5
inches across.


== 11 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 3:18 pm
From: Lee Frelich


Deer populations are increasing, and their grazing can make the plants
smaller because so much of the plant's stored energy is consumed by the
deer. Also, the earthworm invasion has made the soils drier and more
nutrient poor.


== 12 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 6:28 pm
From: Carolyn Summers

How beautiful and fascinating! Do you have a theory as to why the trilliums
are getting smaller?
Carolyn Summers
63 Ferndale Drive
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

== 13 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 6:55 pm
From: Josh

My guess is that the energy reserves in the roots of perennial plants
like trilliums are depleted when they are topped every year by dear
browsing, resulting in a plant that slowly starves to death and gets
smaller in the process.


== 14 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 7:12 pm
From: Carolyn Summers

I suspected that deer might be partly to blame.........
Carolyn Summers
63 Ferndale Drive
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

== 15 of 15 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 8:33 pm
From: "Edward Frank"


Perhaps an equilibrium will be reached where the trilliums manage to stay alive perpetually but only at a smaller size as a result of the foliage loss from deer browse. I am not sure how invasive earthworms on down the road will impact the trillium populations, but I am guessing it will not be good.


== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 9:21 pm

Trilliums used to exist in woodlots throughout my home town in southeastern Wisconsin. Deer reduced their sizes and numbers in the 1980's at about the same times that the earthworms were reaching them. Then, the worms eliminated the duff and the trilliums, as well as their associates, in many areas by the turn of the century. In my home town, I used to know of hundreds of acres of white "large flowered trilliums" trillium grandiflorum, as well as the prairie or red trilliums, trillium recurvatum. Now, I only know of a total of a few acres of each in my home town - some in road side strips and others in local nature center restorations.

Paul Jost

TOPIC: Door Peninsula, WI

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Fri, May 23 2008 2:36 pm
From: Lee Frelich

Ed et al.:

Yes, after many years of deer browsing, large-flowered trilliums in
Illinois are only about 6 inches tall, and the deer don't pay as much
attention to plants that small. Roger Anderson published a paper about it a
while ago (perhaps the 1980s). Its too bad, I like the 30 inch tall ones
with 5-6 inch flowers.


== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Fri, May 23 2008 3:28 pm
From: Elisa Campbell

are there any photographs available that document the change in size? it
would be very interesting / useful / educational if we had such photographs

TOPIC: Door Peninsula, WI

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Sat, May 24 2008 9:14 am
From: Lee Frelich


I am trying to find such pictures myself. I did take some trillium pictures
30 years ago, and perhaps I can find the same places again, although its
too late for this year, since the trilliums will be finished flowering by
the next time I visit the Door Peninsula.