Too Early Spring: Snow Trillium

9 March 2023

On Monday 6 March 2023, Fran Bungert sent me an email to say that she saw snow trillium blooming at Cedar Creek Park the day before. She added that 5 March is the earliest she’s ever seen it bloom.

In my experience snow trillium (Trillium nivale) is usually the earliest spring ephemeral in southwestern Pennsylvania, traditionally blooming in late March or early April. The flowers persist for about four weeks so my observations circled below are not necessarily first bloom date. Nonetheless Fran’s 5 March observation in red is the earliest ever!

Snow trillium observed blooming at Cedar Creek, Kate St. John’s selected years 2000-2023 (calendar image from

Inspired to see the flowers I visited Cedar Creek on Tuesday afternoon. Before I reached the snow trillium hillside, I found evidence of flash floods that cut the creek bank. It was a brown landscape compared to what I see in April.

Cedar Creek and streamside trail, 7 March 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

Snow trillium dotted the hillside but blended into the fallen leaves because the white flowers looked like splashes of sunshine. How many flowers do you see in this photo?

The flowers were at various stages from barely to fully open, at top.

Snow trillium at Cedar Creek, 7 March 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

I found harbinger of spring (Erigenia bulbosa) leaves but no flowers.

As of 7 March only the snow trillium was blooming at Cedar Creek.

(photos by Kate St. John)

p.s. For my own notes, here’s a list of blogs that indicate when I saw snow trillium:

5 thoughts on “Too Early Spring: Snow Trillium

  1. Wow! I hadn’t noticed them along the creek! I did see they have spread even further along the upper trail than I have seem them other years.

    1. Sorry to confuse you with that photo of the creek; I was trying to show that the creek is wider than it used to be. Yes, the snow trillium are up the hill as you described.

    2. That occurred to me as I was showing my husband your pictures. I didn’t think there were any along the creek, but thought maybe I missed them. The rocky hillside seems to be to their liking.

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