Siskiyou wakerobin (Pseudotrillium rivale) was originally known as Trillium rivale. In 2002 it was assigned to the monotypic genus, Pseudotrillium, based on the molecular and morphological work of Susan B Farmer. The genus name means false Trillium – from the Greek pseudes/false. The species designation indicates, in Latin, that the plant “grows by streams”. I must admit that I personally never saw a Siskiyou wakerobin along a stream, although they do grow in moist areas. Brook wakerobin and stream wakerobin are two other common names for this member of the Bunchflower Family (Melanthiaceae).
Endemic to the Siskiyou Mountains of Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California, Siskiyou wakerobin grows in serpentine soils on moist, wooded slopes.
A native perennial, Siskiyou wakerobin arises from a rhizome. The three leaves occur in a whirl below the flower. The glossy, leathery, entire leaves are variable in shape and can be lanceolate to cordate and pointed or not.
There is a single flower per stem. The flower has an elongated pedicel (stalk) that is erect when the flower opens and elongates after pollination, curving downward until the ovary contacts the soil. Siskiyou wakerobin flowers have three green sepals, three white petals with purple spotting, six stamens and an ovary with three stigmas. By mid-July the plant withers and becomes dormant.
The fruit is a cylindrical, pulpy capsule containing many seeds. The seeds have an oil body called the elaiosome. Ants collect the seeds for their nutritious oil and thus disperse Siskiyou wakerobin seeds.
These Siskiyou wakerobin specimens were photographed in May along the Myrtle Creek Botanical Trail in Six Rivers National Forest (Del Norte County CA).