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Toxic parts

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[1].

Edible uses


Bulb - raw[2] or cooked[3][4]. A crisp, chewy and very pleasant taste[5]. The bulb is up to 25mm long and is buried quite deeply in the soil[6].

Leaves - raw or cooked[3][4]. Added to salads[5]. Eating the leaves will greatly reduce the vigour of the bulb, so can only be recommended in times of emergency[K].

Flowers, flower buds and flower stems - raw or cooked[5].



Material uses

Plants spread freely by means of underground stems and make a delightful ground cover in dappled shade[7]. The plants are only in growth from late winter to late spring so the ground cover effect is ephemeral[K].
There are no material uses listed for Erythronium americanum.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

All parts of the plant, but especially the bulb and the fresh leaves, are strongly emetic and are not used internally[6].

The fresh leaves are also antiscrofulatic and emollient and are used as an infusion or stimulating poultice applied to swellings, tumours and scrofulous ulcers[6][2][8]. The juice from crushed leaves has been applied to wounds that are not healing[7]. A poultice of the crushed bulbs has been applied to swellings and to help remove splinters[7].

The raw plant, excluding the roots, has been used by native North American young girls to prevent conception[7].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[9][10]. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification[9]. 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[10].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Erythronium americanum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers slightly acid soil conditions but succeeds in chalky soils if these contain plenty of humus[9]. Requires semi-shade, preferably provided by trees or shrubs, and a well-drained soil[11][9]. Succeeds in almost any light soil, preferring one that is rich in humus[12].

This species does not flower very freely, increasing mainly by its stoloniferous habit[9]. The flowers only open in warm sun[13]. When established in woodland, this species can spread very freely by means of underground roots[14].

Flowers are produced in 3 - 4 years from seed[9].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Erythronium americanum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Erythronium americanum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Erythronium americanum
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
    3. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    4. ? Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    7. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    9. ? Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4. Thompson and Morgan. (1990-00-00)
    10. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    11. ? Grey. C. H. Hardy Bulbs. Williams & Norgate. (1938-00-00)
    12. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    13. ? Phillips. R. and Rix. M. Bulbs Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30253-1 (1989-00-00)
    14. ? RHS. Wisley, Surrey. The Garden. Volume 124. 1999. RHS. Wisley, Surrey. ISBN 0308 5457 (1999-00-00)
    15. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

    Facts about "Erythronium americanum"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyLiliaceae +
    Belongs to genusErythronium +
    Functions asGround cover +
    Has binomial nameErythronium americanum +
    Has common nameTrout Lily +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFlowers +, Leaves + and Root +
    Has edible useUnknown use +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone3 +
    Has mature height0.2 +
    Has mature width0.08 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntiscrophulatic +, Contraceptive +, Emetic +, Emollient + and Poultice +
    Has search nameerythronium americanum + and trout lily +
    Has shade tolerancePartial shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy + and Loamy +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameErythronium americanum +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Erythronium americanum +, Erythronium americanum +, Erythronium americanum +, Erythronium americanum +, Erythronium americanum +, Erythronium americanum +, Erythronium americanum + and Erythronium americanum +