Trillium discolor - Wray ex Hook.
Faded Trillium
Other English Common Names: Mottled Wakerobin
Other Common Names: mottled wakerobin
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Trillium discolor Wray ex Hook. (TSN 43069)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.131323
Element Code: PMLIL20090
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Trillium
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Trillium discolor
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Jan2008
Global Status Last Changed: 30Apr2008
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Trillium discolor is restricted to mountainous areas of the Savannah River drainage of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Trillium discolor populations are currently threatened by habitat alteration resulting mainly from commercial and residential development, silvicultural practices, and inundation from dam construction. Trillium discolor sites may be lost to other land-use changes including roadway construction and inundation from dam construction. Otherwise, the species appears to be stable and could be considered threatened as opposed to endangered.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Georgia (S1S2), North Carolina (S1), South Carolina (S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Restricted to mountainous areas of the Savannah River drainage of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: In South Carolina, readily found in coves derived from mafic substrates in the Inner Piedmont of three counties with large publicly or privately owned conservation properties such as Sumter National Forest and Jocasee Gorges. More sites will inevitably be discovered as these areas are better documented (B. Pittman, pers. comm., 2007).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats at each occurrence should be identified and evaluated. Ranking the stresses and sources of stress may be helpful in developing a preserve design or in developing management plans for the site. Some of the possible threats to T. discolor are noted below.

Trillium discolor populations are currently threatened by habitat alteration resulting mainly from commercial and residential development, silvicultural practices, and inundation from dam construction.

Land-use change to commercial and residential development is present in some potential habitat areas for T. discolor. Although this pressure is presently not a severe threat in some areas, it will increase as rural areas continue to become more developed.

Trillium discolor sites may be lost to other land-use changes including roadway construction and inundation from dam construction. These low lying habitat areas are similar to the habitat of Shortia galacifolia; therefore much of the potential habitat for T. discolor may have been severely impacted by inundation from hydroelectric projects along the Savannah River (Dunn and Jones 1979). Along smaller tributaries, beaver dams may also cause flooding which could threaten some populations.

Several populations of T. discolor occur on National Forest lands and private forests. The silvicultural practices in these areas should include precautions for these sites. Opening of the forest canopy can lead to drying of the substrate and reduce habitat of the species. Trillium discolor may respond favorably to increased sunlight in the short term, but increased soil drying will eventually reduce quality habitat. Increased sunlight, heavy erosion and sedimentation may preclude all but selective logging. Extreme care should be given to sedimentation control and avoidance of plants during logging. Clearcutting and power line rights-of-way could have major impacts by eliminating the canopy.

Conversion to monoculture (pine or orchard) would have a negative impact on the species. Agricultural herbicide runoff should be avoided by limiting activities adjacent to the Trillium population.

Taking for commercial trade is not currently a significant threat, although taking for personal collections is a high potential threat. Collection for garden exhibits should be discouraged as it may create a demand and market for the species. Collections for scientific and educational purposes are sporadic and constitute a low threat. Any collection should be gathered from large populations as opposed to smaller ones, and all collecting activities should be monitored. Investigator impacts on these plants include the possibility of increased herbivory from native fauna attracted to the plant by salt deposits left after handling plants as noted with Isotria medeoloidies (Rawinski 1987).

The extent of threats from exotic plant species is undocumented. Threats from aggressive ground covering species may include: Hedera helix, Lonicera japonica, and Peuraria lobata. If monitoring indicates a negative impact, manual removal may be required. Herbicides should be avoided.

The impact of grazing by native fauna is also undocumented. Predation may not have serious impacts on large populations but could severely impact smaller populations, although larger populations may attract browsers and herbivores. Soil disturbance is also a major concern. Opening sites to livestock grazing would have a serious negative impact on the species.

Short-term Trend Comments: A general trend for the species is unknown. Several suspected habitats have been lost to inundation from dam construction projects. Specific sites are under pressure and have potential threats which may reduce the population size. Otherwise, the species appears to be stable and could be considered threatened as opposed to endangered.

Environmental Specificity Comments: The small localized distribution makes this species inherently rare.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Restricted to mountainous areas of the Savannah River drainage of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States GA, NC, SC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
GA Columbia (13073), Elbert (13105), Hart (13147), Oglethorpe (13221)*, Stephens (13257), Wilkes (13317)*
NC Jackson (37099), Transylvania (37175)
SC Abbeville (45001), Aiken (45003)*, Anderson (45007)*, Edgefield (45037), McCormick (45065), Oconee (45073), Pickens (45077)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Seneca (03060101)+, Tugaloo (03060102)+, Upper Savannah (03060103)+, Broad (03060104)+*, Middle Savannah (03060106)+, Stevens (03060107)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Perennial herb with erect stem from a short, horizontal rhizome, terminating with a whorl of three leaves and a solitary pale yellow or cream spatulate flower with purple stamens.

Scapes 9-33 cm tall, erect, glabrous or scattered puberulent above. Foliaceous bracts elliptic, ovate, obovate or sub-rotund, 4.5-14 cm long, mottled, acute to acuminate, sessile, (margins entire). Flowers sessile, spicy fragrance (clove-like): sepals narrowly ovate to ovate, 1.5-4 cm long, erect to divergent, acute: petals spatulate, blade of petals pale yellow, claw greenish or maroon, blunt, mucronate, apiculate or acuminate; stamens purple, 8-19 mm long, erect: anthers introrse above, often laterally dehiscent basally, longer than filaments, anther connective prolonged up to 2 mm beyond the anther to a pointed beak: pollen yellow to orange; filaments 1-2.5 mm long: stigmas subulate, 1.5-6 mm long, erect or divergent, the tips straight or arching outward; ovary ovoid, 2.5-8 mm tall, 6-angled. Berry subglobose, sharply 6-angled or 6-angled or 6-winged. (Freeman 1975, Weakley In Progress)

Diagnostic Characteristics: Among sessile Trilliums, T. discolor is unique for its petal color and shape. The spatulate, apiculate petals are a pale yellow (almost white) or a pale sulfur yellow. The relatively small ovary is half the length of the stamens. The bud of T. discolor is distinctive, being the only sessile-flowered Trillium in the southeast with apiculate buds. The flower has a spicy clove-like fragrance.
Ecology Comments: There is very little information on the reproductive biology of this species of Trillium. Plants flower from late March to early May (Radford et al. 1968, Weakley In Progress). The general life cycle is similar to that of most Trillium species: flowers appear in the early spring, an oval-shaped berry-like capsule fruit matures in the early to mid summer, and the plant then perenates to its rhizome after the fruit matures. Plant dormancy may also play a factor in the life cycle of this species (R. Sutter pers. comm.).

The fruits do not appear adapted for long distance dispersal and most likely fall near the parent plant. Chances for extrapopulation dispersal are poor. Capsules could be transported by water, animals, or insects. Seed morphology may be conducive to myrmecochory. Seed dispersal by ants, observed with T. petiolatum, may also take place with T. discolor.

Trillium discolor grows from rhizomes that are usually compact with very short internodes, suggesting a very slow growth rate (Freeman 1975).

Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cliff, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Forest/Woodland, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Habitats of Trillium discolor include: wooded slopes usually on circumneutral to basic soils (Radford et al. 1968); rich cove forests (Weakley In Progress); rich to rather open oak-pine woods and cane brakes; on rocky bluffs, ravine slopes, or alluvial clay soils (Freeman 1975); mesic lower slopes of drainages over amphibolite (R. Sutter pers. comm.).

Sites may be low to moderate in elevation, mesic, sheltered and may be quite rocky. The dense forest canopy can contain a diverse mixture of mesophytic trees such as Liriodendron tulipifera, Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Prunus serotina, and Tsuga canadensis. The open understory may contain Cornus florida, Carpinus carolina, Magnolia tripetala, and Ostrya virginiana. Shrub layer is open and sparse and may include Lindera benzoin, Cornus alterniflora, and Hydrangea arborescens. The herb layer is lush and very diverse, with a number of rare species often present. Some species present in the herb layer are Cimicifuga racemosa, Trillium erectum, Impatiens pallida, I. capensis, Arisaema triphyllum, and Viola spp. Some of the rare vascular plants often found in these areas include Isotria medoloides, and Panax quinquefolius (Schafale and Weakley 1990).

Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Trillium discolor populations are currently threatened by habitat alteration resulting mainly from commercial and residential development, silvicultural practices, and inundation from dam construction.

Land-use change to commercial and residential development is present in some potential habitat areas for T. discolor. Although this pressure presently is not a severe threat, in some areas it will increase as rural areas continue to become more developed.

Logging in areas occupied by the species is a significant threat. Increased sunlight from opening of the canopy and the subsequent drying of the soil has led to the decrease in some populations (P. Shatley, pers. comm.). Clearcutting and power line rights-of-way, therefore, would have a negative impact. The effects of conversion to a monoculture is unknown but presumed to be negative. Trampling of plants and compaction of soil are also of concern.

Trillium discolor sites may be lost to other land-use changes. Impacts from the construction of roadways and buildings, and inundation from dam construction are of specific concern. These low lying habitat areas have historically been lost to inundation from dam construction (Dunn and Jones 1979). Beaver dams may also cause flooding which could threaten some populations.

The role that fire plays with this species is unknown. Given the normally moist conditions, fire is thought to be a rare occurrence, which would likely have a negative impact on this species.

Taking for commercial trade is not currently a significant threat, although taking for personal collections/horticulture is a high potential threat. Scientific and educational collection is sporadic and constitutes a low threat, but should be monitored. Trampling is a concern for those populations occurring near trails.

The extent of threats from exotic species is undocumented. However, threats from aggressive ground covering species such as Hedera helix, Lonicera japonica, and Peuraria lobata are of concern and may require manual removal.

The impact of grazing by native fauna may be severe at some locations. Deer tend to graze on the leaves and flowers, particularly those of sessile flower trilliums (T. Patrick pers.comm.). While predation may not have serious impacts on large populations, it could severely impact smaller ones. Opening sites to livestock grazing would have a serious negative impact on both the species and its habitat.

Monitoring of populations and individuals is required to determine the current status (overall and by site) and define population trends.

Species Impacts: Trillium discolor has no known impacts on other species.
Restoration Potential: Too little information exists on the life history, abiotic and biotic conditions of T. discolor to justify attempts to create artificially established populations. Trillium species in general are difficult to cultivate as they are easily damaged and slow growing. Timing is very important for transplanting. Plants should be collected during the dormant period in early spring. Propagation from seed is difficult as the seed must be planted soon after ripening. The ripening window is very small (1-2 days) for individual plants and presents some difficulties in seed collection (R. Gardner pers. comm.). The seed dormancy period for T. discolor is unknown. Trillium seeds may sprout in the following year or lay dormant for two or more winters.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: GOALS: Preserve design considerations should be based on the site conservation goals for the specific site. These goals may focus on the T. discolor population, the vegetation community, or the ecosystem, and should be clear and concise with measurable results.

ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION: The best available ecological and biological information should be used in decision making. A decision on what constitutes a viable population needs to be determined on a site-by-site basis. The total number of occurrences, and their relative conditions should also be considered.

Monitoring may reveal the appropriate level of the various age classes needed to provide for the continual existence of the population. Age class data from A (or B) ranked occurrences of this community may be used to give an idea of the desirable distribution of individuals within those age classes. Monitoring should be used to indicate the extent of threats from exotics. Investigation into immigration/emigration of the species should be included in monitoring. For the community, selected members (often dominant) may be targeted for monitoring or management activities.

Development of a model that represents stages (life cycle), processes (succession, disturbance), and threats to T. discolor or its associated community will help in producing a comprehensive site design. Construction of a model may be useful for understanding the threats and population conditions. The combination of a model and threats analysis will set the stage for conservation strategies.

CONSERVATION ZONES: Conservation zones include all processes needed to protect a population over the long-term.

THREATS: Threats must be assessed at each occurrence (see GTHREATCOM section of this ESA). One goal of any site conservation plan is to eliminate or mitigate threats. Threats may come from any source and may be environmental (process related) or demographic. Site design considerations should include hydrologic, sedimentation, and natural and unnatural disturbance parameters.

Trillium discolor occurrence sites are heavily influenced by water and sedimentation from upslope areas. Plant habitat/occurrence areas, upslope lands need to be protected by adequate conservation zones to ensure water drainage processes are maintained and excess sedimentation prevented. Trilliums are very susceptible to physical damage, so fencing or some other form of exclusion may be necessary.

The appropriate level of the various age classes needed to provide for the continual existence of the population may be revealed by monitoring A (or B) ranked occurrences. Monitoring should be used to indicate the extent of threats from exotics.

MEASURES of SUCCESS: A method for determining the level of success should be developed in order to determine if goals and objectives were met, to evaluate the conservation strategies used, and to determine directions for future conservation actions.

Management Requirements: Little is known of the conditions necessary for reproduction, dispersion, establishment and maintenance of T. discolor to assess potential management plans. Disturbance of soils producing heavy sedimentation needs to be avoided. Changes in the site hydrology are a major concern as drying and flooding may negatively impact the habitat. Changes in canopy should be monitored as well as humidity. If competition from an exotic species is leading to a decline in habitat, manual removal may be required.

Although T. discolor is globally rare, it is locally abundant. This local abundance is often misleading in the perception of its rarity and may lead to decisions based only on a local scale. This local abundance may allow for limited experimentation of different management practices on larger occurrences. Management might otherwise focus on maintaining the current canopy composition and community structure.

Monitoring Requirements: Determination of the monitoring protocol will be defined by the monitoring objective on a site-by-site basis. The best method of monitoring the population is determined by 1) what information is required to adequately address the management objective for a particular site, and 2) on the time and resources available for monitoring. Monitoring may be on one of three levels of monitoring of a combination of any level.

Level I: Qualitative or semi-quantitative information

Abundance information: presence/absence, location making, number estimate, permanent photo-points. In large and small Trillium populations the boundaries could be mapped. Either quadrants or the entire population could be mapped, and new plants recorded.

Level II

Quantitative measures of population/community: number of individuals or stage class, density, percent cover, frequency, permanent or non-permanent transects.Life cycle status could be observed during flowering and fruiting periods. In-depth monitoring would track seedlings and mature plants, and sources of mortality.

Level III

Quantitative age or stage class analysis: various measures of marked individuals. A technique for monitoring T. discolor would be to permanently identify individual plants and follow their life cycles over a period of several years. This method could be suitable for small populations and subsets of larger populations. Care should be taken not to damage the rhizome of the plants when placing stakes.


Management Programs: Presently no known management programs exist for T. discolor. Until more is known about the habitat requirements and dynamics of the species, management of T. discolor should focus on maintaining the current canopy composition and community structure, and reducing identified stresses.
Monitoring Programs: No current monitoring program exist for T. discolor. Trillium discolor requires monitoring to determine its current status (overall and by site) and population trend. The best method of monitoring needs to be determined (see MONIT.REQS).
Management Research Programs: No current research on management programs exist for this species.
Management Research Needs: Basic biological information on T. discolor is currently inadequate for long-term management of this species.
Additional topics:

Individuals knowledgeable of this species include:

Thomas Patrick, Senior Botanist, Georgia Natural Heritage Program, 2117 U.S. Highway 278 S.E., Social Circle, GA 30279; (770) 918-6411.

L.L. Gaddy, Botanist, 245 The Wildwood Way, Walhalla, SC 29691; (864) 638-7687.

Albert Pittman, Botanist, South Carolina Heritage Trust, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202; (803) 734-3883

Rob Gardner, North Carolina Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 3375, Totten Center, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; (919) 962-0522.

John D. Freeman, Auburn University, Dept. Of Botany & Microbiology, Auburn, AL 36849-5407; (205) 844-1633.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 14Oct2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Crowell, Jr., W. L. (1996), rev. D. Gries (1999)
Management Information Edition Date: 01Oct1996
Management Information Edition Author: CROWELL, JR., W. L.
Management Information Acknowledgments: U. S. Forest Service Challenge Cost-share grants from the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, the South Carolina Field Office of The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Science Department at the Southeast Regional Office provided funding for the development of this ESA.
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): CROWELL, JR., W. L.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Dunn, B.A. and S.M. Jones. 1979. Geographic distribution of Shortia galacifolia in Oconee and Pickins counties, South Carolina. The Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 95(1): 31-41.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Freeman, J.D. 1975. Revision of Trillium subgenus Phyllantherum (Liliaceae). Brittonia 27:1-62.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • Rawinski, T. 1987. Isotria medeoloides, Element Stewardship Abstract. The Nature Conservancy.

  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: Third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, North Carolina. 325pp.

  • Weakley, A.S. 1996. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia: working draft of 23 May 1996. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Southern Conservation Science Dept., Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Unpaginated.

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