Erythronium propullans (Dwarf Trout Lily)
|Also known as:||Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily, Minnesota Fawnlily, Minnesota Adder's-tongue|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; rich woods|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||3 to 4 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single tiny flower, about ¼ inch long and 1/3 to ½ inch across when open, nods down at the end of a naked stem about 3 inches long. There are 4 to 6 tepals (petals) that curve back, with only a small percent of flowers having the 6 tepals typical for lilies. The petal color ranges from white to pinkish or lavender. The yellow-tipped stamens are of unequal length. The flowers close up at night.
There are 1 or 2 basal leaves, generally elliptical, tapering to a point at both ends, with smooth edges and short stalks. Immature, non-flowering plants have 1 leaf, flowering plants have 2 leaves of unequal lengths, the longer leaf up to 6 inches long and ¾ inch wide. The color is mottled green and brown. Leaves may be curled or folded lengthwise some, or opened flat.
Fruit is very rarely produced. Plants primarily spread vegetatively through underground stolons
Dwarf Trout Lily is endemic to 3 counties in southern Minnesota—it grows nowhere else on earth, though it was transplanted at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis and the UM Arboretum in Carver County. Many people have reported finding Dwarf Trout Lily in other locations, but it invariably turns out to be the related and much more common White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum), with which it often grows side by side and sometimes hybridizes and may produce fruit. When not flowering, the Dwarf is not easily distinguished from other trout lilies, though the leaves are slightly smaller than those of the average White Trout Lily. When in bloom, the flower size difference is unmistakable, plus the Dwarf typically has only 4 tepals where White always has 6. According to the DNR, is thought by some that Dwarf Trout Lily is a White Trout Lily that mutated when the last glacier came through the area. It was listed as a Minnesota State Endangered species in 1984 and Federally Endangered in 1986.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Rice County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, Minneapolis.
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