© Dave Spier
Have you ever found a Variegated (a.k.a. Teratologic) Trillium? I've encountered this variety of Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflora) in a number of locations including the Towns of Manchester and Junius in the northern Finger Lakes region of New York State. The green stripe down the center of each petal is due to a harmless virus in the plant. (As I recall, that was the explanation from a botany professor at Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua.) However, I found another reference on In Defense of Plants listing the cause as a mycoplasma bacteria that weakens and eventually kills the host trillium.
My friend Ed Snyder from Williamson, NY, found one near Zurich Bog in the Town of Arcadia. He commented that there were few other trilliums this year where many had grown before. In contrast, down the road from our house, the woods is carpeted with white trilliums. I don't know whether this species goes through cycles, but they are a favorite deer food, so I suspect that might be the problem this year. Any other opinions out there?
Corrections, comments and questions are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect through my Facebook page and photo page. There's also a community-type page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature and geology topics can be found on the parallel blogs Adirondack Naturalist and Heading Out.