The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Trout Lily
Erythronium americanum is a Bulb up to 0.20 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, the following notes have been seen for another member of this genus and so some caution is advised.
Skin contact with the bulbs has been known to cause dermatitis in sensitive people[
Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Florida, west to Ontario and Arkansas.
Meadows and rich damp open woodland[
Prefers slightly acid soil conditions but succeeds in chalky soils if these contain plenty of humus[
]. Requires semi-shade, preferably provided by trees or shrubs, and a well-drained soil[
]. Succeeds in almost any light soil, preferring one that is rich in humus[
Nonflowering plants far outnumber flowering ones in most populations because of their extensive stolon production[
]. This species does not flower very freely, increasing mainly by its stoloniferous habit[
]. The flowers only open in warm sun[
]. When established in woodland, this species can spread very freely by means of underground roots[
Flowers are produced in 3 - 4 years from seed[
Bulb - raw[
] or cooked[
]. A crisp, chewy and very pleasant taste[
]. The bulb is up to 25mm long and is buried quite deeply in the soil[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. Added to salads[
]. Eating the leaves will greatly reduce the vigour of the bulb, so can only be recommended in times of emergency[
Flowers, flower buds and flower stems - raw or cooked[
All parts of the plant, but especially the bulb and the fresh leaves, are strongly emetic and are not used internally[
The fresh leaves are also antiscrofulatic and emollient and are used as an infusion or stimulating poultice applied to swellings, tumours and scrofulous ulcers[
]. The juice from crushed leaves has been applied to wounds that are not healing[
A poultice of the crushed bulbs has been applied to swellings and to help remove splinters[
The raw plant, excluding the roots, has been used by native North American young girls to prevent conception[
Plants spread freely by means of underground stems and make a delightful ground cover in dappled shade[
]. The plants are only in growth from late winter to late spring so the ground cover effect is ephemeral[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Water lightly in summer, it should germinate in autumn or winter[
]. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification[
]. Sow as early in spring as possible in a cold frame. Sow the seed thinly so that it will not be necessary to prick them out for their first year of growth. Give an occasional liquid feed to the seedlings to make sure that they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants are dormant, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for another 2 3 years and then plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant in late summer.
Division in summer as the leaves die down. This species does not produce offsets[