A "volunteer" Fawn Lily growing in poor soil underneath Salal.

It’s the time of year for Erythronium. These woodland flowers have been called Trout Lily, Toad Lily, Dog’s Tooth Violet and Adder’s Tongue, but the ones in my garden are the White Fawn Lilies, Erythronium oregonum. As delicate as they look, they will survive in poor soil under deciduous shrubs or trees, sending their seeds out to produce new plants in surprising places. I have had them come up on our gravel driveway and in the midst of a thick clump of Periwinkle (Vinca) under a willow tree. They can survive in uncultivated soil, nearly hiding themselves under our native Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and Oregon-grape (Mahonia aquifolium), but they really thrive in humus-rich soil in dappled shade.

Native to western North America from Oregon to British Columbia, Fawn Lilies can be found in many places on Vancouver Island and are one of the plants that grow in our beautiful Garry Oak meadows.

Fawn Lilies are produced from fleshy corms. Their leaves are striking: large, glossy, dark green, with a marbled or mottled pattern etched out in lighter green or bronze.

The bulb is edible as a root vegetable, cooked or dried, and can be ground into flour. The leaves can also be cooked as a leaf vegetable. In Japan, Erythronium japonicum is called katakuri, and the bulb is processed to produce starch, which is used for food and other purposes. (, Erythronium)

In my daughter’s “town garden”, Fawn Lilies are growing with some delightful companions, including daffodils, Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius), Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and Euphorbia.

"White Fawn Lilies", watercolour, 9" x 12"


11 thoughts on “Erythronium

  1. Pingback: Pansies, Pansy Orchids & Dog’s Tooth Violets | the painting gardener

  2. Although tough they look so delicate somehow – like you shown them in the beautiful watercolour!
    In early spring we go hiking just to surprise the first signs of the trout lilies on the woodland floor.


    • It’s a delight to me that you keep coming back to look at my older posts. Thank you for doing that. I planted some trout lilies last fall–they were from Fraser’s Thimble Farms. I do hope they come up this year and multiply in future years.


      • I am just making up for the stories I missed! You may find it strange but I bought plants from Fraser’s too – they really have the most amazing collection (of course their location is advantageous).


  3. I didn’t know of these pretty things before. The flowers look so delicate and the leaves present a lovely background for them. Your beautiful and delicate watercolour seems the perfect medium in which to represent them.
    Despite my lateness, Mrs Daffodil, I always look forward to your posts.


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