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Ready or not, here come the trilliums!

Tuesday, May. 6 | By Julie Taylor
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
The white trillium flower blooms in abundance in northwestern Fauquier. Tourists come in the hundreds to see them at the G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area.
The northwest corner of Fauquier County boasts one of the densest populations of white trillium flowers in the United States.

"It's like a carpet in places," said Steven Carroll, the director of outreach programs at The Virginia State Arboretum at Blandy Experimental Farms, located near the beautiful blooms.

The flower is now in full bloom at the G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area.

The flowers draw quite a crowd to the otherwise quiet area. It's not uncommon for tour buses ship in aspiring botanists in the hundreds, said Lee Walker, outreach director for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

"It has become one of the premier wildflower destinations on the east coast," Walker said.

The flower's bloom is a couple inches wide, and Carroll, who is a botanist and plant ecologist, said he's seen “numbers in the tens of millions."

Blandy Experimental Farms takes a group out to Thompson for a guided tour every year, and this year they believe the cold winter had slowed down the growth, pushing back the bloom time.

Walker said the trillium flowers draw the largest crowd, but there are also bloodroot and a wild orchid species commonly known as the yellow lady slipper.

"The trilliums tend to take the most notable celebrity status because there are so many in such a small, concentrated area," Walker said. "It is one of the densest collection of trilliums anywhere on the east coast."

Nearby Merrimac Farms Wildlife Management Area is also a crowd pleaser with one of the largest concentrations of bluebells, which are not as exotic, but beautiful nonetheless.

To visit the G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area, you must possess a hunting/fishing license or purchase a day pass, which can be done online at dgif.virginia.gov/licenses/.

Facts about trilliums

- There are more than 40 different species of trilliums, blossoming in white, pink or purple.
- The trillium is the official symbol for the province of Ontario in Canada. Some species of trilliums are protected by law in Ontario. It's illegal to pick or transport the flower in New York, Michigan and Minnesota.
- Trilliums are fragile. Picking part of one often kills the whole plant.
- Trilliums are primarily a wildflower. They can be planted, but it takes a very patient gardener to tend them – it can take up to two years for the flower to bloom.
Source: Trilliums.com

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