Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trout Lily

This must be the year of the trout lily, at least if you saw my lawn, you'd think so. Our field lawn is bordered by woods which is where trout lilies like to grow. Eastern trout lily, yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum, is also known as dogtooth violet or adder's tongue, and their is a white Minnesota sister lily or two.

Our Vermont version has pretty brown speckled basal leaves with a single, slender center stalk sprouting a delicate yellow flower. At first only one small leaf appears from the ground and it takes awhile before another sprouts. It takes several years for a flower to appear, so unless they are as abundant on your property as on ours, take heed in harvesting.

Trout lily corms are worth digging out unless the plant is endangered as is the white Minnesota dwarf trout lily (Erythronium propullans). Digging out the sweet, small fragile corms is not easy, so consider these little white gems a rare delicacy. Larger corms seem to have more starch and are less sweet. We happen to have enough trout lilies to last a lifetime--small and large, but digging them out of stony Vermont soil is a challenge. You can transplant them in the fall to encourage growth in an area where you would like them to spread so you can harvest for all to enjoy.

Now barely mid-May the flowers have gone, but the leaves are still around for picking. Wash well and use them raw in a salad as you can do with the flower heads and corms. You can see how Chef Ted uses some mid-size leaves as a flower petal on his wild leaf salad of our May 3rd post. Here is a link with more information and recipes.