Purple Trillium

Trillium erectum

Trille dressé

The red trillium, also known as the wake robin, sports the traditional three petal design while instead of clean linen white petals it sports deep maroon red blooms. This spring blooming flower prefers acidic soil.

Purple Trillium is also known as Stinking Benjamin, Illscented Trillium, Illscented, Wakerobin, Stinking Willie, Wet Dog Trillium, and Wet Dog Wakerobin.

These names are a reference to the fact that the flowers have an unpleasant, fetid scent which attracts flesh flies, carrion beetles, and similar insects to act as pollinators.

Indigenous groups used the root of Purple Trillium as an aid to childbirth. The whole plant was made into a poultice used to treat tumors, inflammation, and ulcers. Purple Trillium was also used as a remedy for coughs and ulcers.

Edible uses of the plant are limited. Some sources recommend using the leaves (gathered before the appearance of the flowers) as an addition to salads or as a cooked vegetable. The berries and roots are inedible and are said to be poisonous.


In nature Mixed woods.


Companion plant suggestions include Virginia Bluebells and Shootingstar.

Caring for Purple Trillium

It needs to receive ample sunlight early in its growing season. For this reason avoid siting it on the north side of buildings, where there isn’t much early season sunlight. It requires a rich soil with consistent moisture and should be mulched with leaves to help maintain adequate moisture and acidity levels.

It is happiest in Sand, Loam, Clay

In terms of water, Purple Trillium needs Medium to moist