Who doesn’t love trout lilies? Also called dog tooth violets, these lovely spring ephemerals are just what you need to see after a long, dreary winter. A stand of white trout lily (Erythronium albidum – http://bit.ly/1tb5bMc) is truly a sight to behold. Similar to their yellow cousins, white trout lilies are spreaders. Their underground roots will bud off new plants and in only a few seasons, a couple plants can quickly become many. Trout lilies offer pollinators a much needed meal during a time when little else is available. What is even more impressive is the impact that trout lilies can have on their neighbors. Known as the vernal dam hypothesis, research shows that spring wildflowers like trout lily actually serve as nutrient pools for the entire forest. Without plants like trout lily, spring rains would saturate the soil, where it would then run off into local waterways, taking with it valuable nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Because trout lilies grow well at low soil temperatures, they actually take up nutrients that would otherwise be lost during this time. When the warmer summer weather hits and the leaves die back, they then release a lot of nutrients back into soil where vigorously growing plants are ready to take it up. By choosing trout lilies for your landscape you are giving back to the surrounding plant communities more than you may realize!