Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout Lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: Yellow Adder's-tongue, Dogtooth Violet
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist rich woods, thickets, along streams
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flower] A single, nodding yellow flower, 1½ inches wide by 1 inch long, at the end of a stiff naked stem to 8 inches long. Flowers sometimes tinged with purple on outside of petals or reddish dots in throat. There are 6 long stamens in the center, usually with deep rusty red tips (anthers), or sometimes yellow. Petals flare out and back, often completely curved back to stem at maturity.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are broad and oval to 2 inches wide to 8 inches long, tapering on both ends at tip to underground bulbs, most bulbs not producing flowers. Flowering plants have a pair of basal leaves, non-flowering plants have a single leaf. The pale, waxy green leaves are mottled with purplish brown to white.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a capsule, oval to inverted egg-shaped, rounded at the tip end and about ¾ inch long at maturity.


Leaves are very similar to Minnesota's other two trout-lilys (E. albidum and E. propullans) though some of the images here were taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis, where both white mottling leaves and yellow anthers were displayed. The source of EB plants is not known. Like the other trout lily species, this is most common on flood plains, the leaves appearing by early April and completely gone by June, and can form large colonies. There are 2 recognized subspecies in North America: subsp. harperi, which has a limited range in a few southeastern states, has a minute point at the tip of a capsule; subsp. americanum has the rounded capsule described here and is found from the easternmost counties of Minnesota eastward and as far south as northern Alabama.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis and along Sand Creek in Pine County


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Heather - Deerwood, MN
on: 2010-04-17 15:10:50

Found one in the woods about 15 feet off the dirt road in Deerwood, MN.

Posted by: Terra - Northern Rice County
on: 2013-04-29 13:00:53

I seem to have these all over the edges of our yard! We just moved in the winter and now that the snow is gone, the muddy areas, near the woods, is blanketed with what looks like these lilies... sprouts of purple and green leaves everywhere. Can a person plant grass seed amongst these? I'm sure the flowers are nice, but we would honestly rather have grass. Thanks in advance for any help on the matter!

Posted by: Brenda - Houston County
on: 2016-04-30 15:07:26

A nice burst of color on a gray day. These lilies are along the wood and pasture line. This is my first citing of them.

Posted by: Don - Pine County. woods at site of Chengwatana city
on: 2016-05-04 23:50:13

Good population at the East end of woodlands on the site of the 1800's city of Chengwatana along the Snake River.

Posted by: Chris - Minnesota River valley
on: 2017-04-24 16:16:25

What I had assumed would be E. albidum at a wildflower site in the MN River valley appears to be rather E. americanum, with a few yellow blooms just beginning to open at this time.

Posted by: Timothy J - Banfill Island one the Mississippi River, Hennepin County
on: 2017-09-30 08:44:07

Small colony seen in the midst of huge colonies of Dutchman's Breeches on an elevation that floods only occasionally in the spring.

Posted by: John Lawrey - Bay Lake Township Crow Wing County
on: 2020-05-16 15:08:46

Seen blooming in the woods behind the cabin.

Posted by: Elaine Erickson - south part of Cook County
on: 2020-05-23 09:56:08

Huge beautiful area next to quiet stream.

Posted by: Eva McDonald - Austin
on: 2021-04-18 21:30:03

Found some at Beaver Creek Valley State park today. April 18.

Posted by: Olga Zenteno - St Cloud MN
on: 2021-04-30 11:14:46

I have the leaves of this plant growing in my backyard woods - no blooms yet. Second year of seeing the leaves.

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