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Flower Power
by Jim Rink
FORBIDDEN!It's spring in northwest Michigan, and that can mean only one thing -- the trilliums are in bloom, along with the morel mushrooms, which I realize don't actually bloom, since they are a form of fungi.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, there are five different kinds of trillium which have been designated as endangered, threatened or probably extirpated (eradicated/extinct). These are: Snow trillium trillium nivale, Prairie trillium trillium recurvatum, Toadshade trillium sessile, Painted trillium trillium undulatum and Green trillium trillium viride.

There is another kind of trillium -- White trillium trillium grandiflorum, which is protected under the Christmas Greens Act of 1962 (I am absolutely not making this up). Under this act, it is illegal to take the plant without the permission of the landowner or a bill of sale.

The White trillium is the one we most often associate with when we think of the word, "Trillium." The Green trillium we can't associate with, because the DNR believes that it has been "extirpated." We assume it had a touch of green to it. I have never heard of a Prairie trillium, but am secretly fascinated, because it reminds me of wide open spaces and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

All the aforementioned trillium species -- except for White trillium -- are protected under the Endangered Species Act of the State of Michigan (Public Act 203 of 1974), as amended. It prohibits a person from taking, and by taking they mean to "collect, pick, cut, dig up, or destroy in any manner," any species of plants which are designated as threatened or endangered (Sec. 36501 (g)).

A person who does violate this STATE LAW is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or a fine of not more than $1,000 or less than $100 or both. That is, you could go to jail; you could be fined or you could go to jail and be fined (Sec. 36507).

Now in the case of the White trillium; apparently, if you are the property owner or have the property owner's permission, you can pick and/or maim the plant to your heart's content. With any of the other varieties, however, you need a special permit from the DNR.

One wonders how the DNR can grant a permit to "bag" a trillium in the regular season.
Trillium hunter: "Yeah, uh, I need a trillium permit?"
DNR: "Snow, painted, green, prairie or toadshade?"
Trillium hunter: "Can I get for prairie and one for painted?"
DNR: "Yeah, but it'll cost more."
Trillium hunter: "Uh, OK....two then. Uh, I might want to use a tree stand."
DNR: "That'll be $15."
Now, it seems to me that (aside from scaring the bejesus out of us fudgies, who love to romp through the woods and do illegal things) that these STATE LAWS should serve as a stern warning to developers and others who have certain designs on woodland territory. I mean, if a proposed golf course near the Homestead can be put on hold due to a meandering stream -- imagine the legal power possessed by a single clump of strategically located (endangered, or threatened) trillium.

Now, I'm not suggesting that certain well-meaning individuals actually go out and start planting trillium in strategic places. That would entail getting some trillium to begin with, which might conflict with aforementioned STATE LAW. But...if someone were to do that, I might just look the other way. If that makes me an accomplice, I deny ever writing these words. Someone else wrote Andrew "Deep Throat" McFarlane maybe. I don't know. I'm just saying.

There are several other options:
1) Legally obtain some White trillium and transplant those in the desired location, carefully painting the appropriate markings on the flower to make wildlife biologists confuse it with the more threatened species. Kind of like putting a white stripe on a black cat and calling it a skunk,

2) Go to Klein's Flowers & Gifts in Suttons Bay and see if they can make a special silk trillium that can be "planted" virtually anywhere and will thrive in all seasons. This will really confuse the biologists and confound the developers, but, they dare not pick it to run tests because that would be a violation of STATE LAW,

The Painted Trillium3) Create an entirely new strain of trillium, which releases a mind-altering spore upon human contact. Kind of like what happened to Spock and other Star Trek crew members in This Side of Paradise,

4) Create an entirely new strain of trillium which makes a really wonderful wine (Larry Mawby may have already done this). Landowners will be encouraged to cultivate this wine flower, which will be left alone in its native habitat.
Well, that about sums it up. If you have any ideas of your own, or would like to contribute cash money to this worthwhile project, contact Jim Rink at, or write: "Flower Power," Highway Overpass G-12, Royal Oak, MI 48073. Tie-dyed Trillium T-shirts may soon be available for $19.95; tax and shipping included.

Copyright 1998 Manitou Publishing Co. & Jim Rink • All Rights Reserved.

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