Erythronium albidum often forms extensive colonies in which nonflowering, 1-leaved plants far outnumber flowering, 2-leaved ones. It is very widespread in eastern North America, more common in the central states than E. americanum and often occurs in slightly drier sites.
Perennial herb with a bulb flowering stem 7 - 20 cm tall Leaves: one or two, born around middle of stem, appearing basal, 8 - 22 cm long, elliptic to egg-shaped to lance-shaped, flattened, irregularly mottled, with a waxy coating (glaucous). Flowers: white, sometimes tinged blue, lavender or pink, yellow inside at the base, 2.5 - 5 cm long, with six distinct, lance-shaped tepals that eventually spread and curve backwards. Stamens six, 1 - 2 cm long. Filaments and anthers yellow. Fruit: a 1 - 2 cm wide, oblong to egg-shaped capsule held upright at maturity.
Similar species: Erythronium americanum is similar but has yellow flowers.
Flowering: late March to mid-May
Habitat and ecology: Common in woods, where it is extensively colonial. These colonies often contain many more one-leaved, non-flowering plants than the two-leaved flowering ones.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Erythronium comes from the Greek word erythros, meaning red (certain European species have red flowers). Albidum means white or whitish.
Extensively colonial; sterile corms numerous, producing a single lf and usually 1-3 stolon-like offshoots; fertile corms few, 2-lvd; lvs mottled in life, flat or nearly so; scape stout, 1-2 dm; tep 2.5-5 cm, strongly recurved-reflexed at anthesis, normally bluish-white, varying to light pink, often suffused with green or blue outside, yellow at base within, not auriculate; stigmas stout, separate, divergent from the linear-clavate style; fr ±erect, held off the ground, rounded to slightly apiculate or slightly depressed at the summit; 2n=44. Moist woods, especially on south slopes; s. Ont. to Minn., s. to Md., DC., Ga., Ky., Mo., and Okla. Mar.-May.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Infrequent to frequent in moist woods throughout the state, usually more frequent and abundant in rich, alluvial flats along streams. This species and the next one have been reported from all parts of the state. It has a short flowering period, from the last of April to the first part of May, which accounts for the few specimens I have collected. This species and the next are usually called dogtooth violet in Indiana.