Monday, March 28, 2011

Golden-star - Erythronium rostratum

March 23, 2011 - Adams County, Ohio

This stunning member of the Liliaceae family is the state endangered Golden-star (Erythronium rostratum).  It was originally found in Ohio by famous botanist E. Lucy Braun in 1963.  Since it's discovery nearly 50 years ago in the valley of Rocky Fork in Scioto County is has never been found anywhere else in the state...until now.  Another population was discovered on March 23, 2011 on the Edge of Appalachia Preserve system in Adams County; the first time this plant has been documented outside the forested hillsides of Rocky Fork in the state of Ohio.

March 23, 2011 - Adams County

Very similar and easily confused with its relative, Yellow Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum), this flower can be separated from the two in a couple ways.  The tepals (petals) of this species spread out in a star-like fashion on a flat plane while the Yellow Trout-lily's petals reflex (curl) back to fully reveal the stamens and pistil.  Another diagnostic characteristic is the bloom of the Golden-star is erect on its peduncle and faces up towards the sky.  The similar Yellow Trout-lily's flowers droop over and face the ground.  Also the Golden-star blooms on average a couple weeks before any Yellow Trout-lilies bloom.

March 23, 2011 - Adams County

While not entirely a sure thing, most Yellow Trout-lily's stamens are red/orange and their inner section of their petals exhibit a scattering of reddish specks.  As seen above, the Golden-star's stamens are golden yellow and lack any spotting on the inner petals.  The fruit is the best means of positive identification when comparing them against the other Erythroniums of Ohio.  Both the Yellow (E. americanum) and White Trout-lily's (E. albidum) fruit lay prostrate along the ground as they mature while the Golden-star's peduncle is erect up off the ground.  The Golden-star's mature capsule also has a "beak" on the end while the other two Erythronium's do not.

March 23, 2011 - Adams County

This species typically blooms in the Rocky Fork region in late March or Early April.  It only blooms for a short time so you really have to hit the timing just right to experience this gorgeous flower!  The newly discovered Adams County population is very secluded and way off the public path; whether the Edge will open this area up to viewing is currently unknown.  I fear with the cold snap and short blooming period these flowers are finished and already in fruit.

If interested in a more detailed account of this discovery feel free to check out my personal nature blog at The Natural Treasures of Ohio.  I look forward to contributing to this site often in the future!  This is on pace to become a fantastic resource for fellow Ohio botanists and plant appreciators!


  1. Hi, Andrew. I saw the first photo and thought someone must have borrowed it from you. It was a nice surprise to read on down and find that you are now a contributor to this site. I'm looking forward to your future posts.