In bloom

Trilliums, the area’s most prominent spring flower, are popping up in droves across Alger County.

Named after its three-petal, three-leaf structure, there are over 40 types of trilliums known worldwide. North America has 38 of them, according to the U.S. Forest Service, while the most common local variety is the white trillium ( Trillium grandiflorum).

The local types are considered ephemerals, because they are some of the first flowers to bloom after the snow melt.

Local farmers are saying that the flowers are out more than usual.

“This is an above average bloom of all the spring ephemerals,” said Rowan Bunce, owner of Rock River Farm. “They love this cooler wetter weather and the duration from the end of the snow to the beginning of deep tree leaf cover makes them flower quickly thus ephemeral.”

According to Alger Conservation District Program Coordinator Christy Foye, Alger County and the Central Upper Peninsula is a great place for these flowers to bloom.

“Up here, there is an abundance of areas where (the flowers) can grow. We have these great hardwood stands that promote forest floor species,” Foye said. “So they pop up and try to get all of that energy that it can.”

Some types of trilliums are protected species, meaning that you cannot pick or harvest trilliums from public land. Rules are lessened for private property, however.

The abundance of trilliums in the Upper Peninsula has become an annual attraction, both for early tourists coming to the area and for locals. Hiking enthusiasts and nature photographers often find unique patches across the area while others can pull over to the side of the road and see trilliums growing in Au Train, Grand Marais, Wetmore and Limestone Township.

Trilliums also spark discussion about pollinators in an ecosystem. Foye said that the flowers form a symbiotic relationship with ants, providing food for the insect while the ant pollinates the plant.