Trout Lily

Trout Lily © 2010 Bo Mackison

Trout Lily © 2010 Bo Mackison

One of the earliest ephemeral spring flowers in Wisconsin is the trout lily. Large colonies of this flower appear in woodlands, as hundreds, even thousands of the lilies pop up from the forest floor in late April. The flower probably gets its name from the unusual brown mottled markings on its large leaves which resemble the brook trout. It also has several other common names, including Fawn Lily, Adder’s Tongue, and Dogtooth Violet, although the flower is a member of the lily family, not the violet family.

It blooms early in the season before the trees have leafed out and while the sunlight still reaches the floor of the forest. I saw large stands of it on Sunday while hiking the Woodland Trail in Governor Nelson State Park. This state park is an urban park located on the shores of Lake Mendota; downtown Madison and the Capitol building can be seen looking across the lake from the park’s shores and bluffs.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Great photo and composition. I love the early Spring flowers.

  2. Beautiful. 🙂

    I always learn something when I visit your blog, Bo. Thanks!

  3. Love the elegant simplicity of these wonderful wildflowers.

  4. Large stands of this lovely flower must be quite a sight, Bo. Makes me want to visit your neck of the woods in the springtime!

  5. What a pretty flower! We don’t have them here, but one of their close relatives is blooming now and tonight I ran across a small area just full of them. I’d love to see the Trout Lily myself!

  6. A little bit of nature elegance.

Leave a Reply