University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Featured Plants


There is always something in bloom at the Arboretum! Use our Plants Library to plan a photo shoot, to choose one of the trails to walk, or learn more about the plants at the Arboretum.

Trillium (Trillium species)

Trillium grandiflorum Trillium cuneatum Trillium luteum
April has brought with it a beautiful display of Trilliums along many of the Arboretum’s trails. There are at least three species of Trillium present: Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) has a stalked large white flower and large dark green leaves. Sweet Betsy (T. cuneatum) and Yellow Trillium (T. luteum) have upright sessile flowers (no stalk) and mottled leaves—they differ in flower color, with the former being maroon to bronze and the latter yellow. These plants are especially conspicuous along the Heath Cove and Oak-Hickory trails.

The name Trillium comes from a Greek word “tris” meaning three. The leaves and flower parts of Trillium all occur in “3s.” Species with sessile flowers (no flower stalks) are commonly known as “Toadshades,” while those with stalked flowers are known as “Wakerobins.” Trillium leaves are said to be edible, and the leaves and roots have been used for medicinal purposes.

Trillium grandiflorumAn interesting group of Trillium cuneatum and T. luteum is present along Old Kerr Hollow Road. This population has both yellow and maroon flowers, with others having intermediate colors between the two. Such populations may represent a hybrid swarm - i.e., a population of interbreeding hybrids.

Early Spring Wildflowers

Many spring wildflowers can be seen along Arboretum trails in March and April. Six of the more common early bloomers are shown here:

Roundlobed Hepatica Bloodroot Bluets

Holly Mayapple Sweet Betsy

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas)

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Flowers As you walk up the hill from Scarborough Creek along Arboretum Drive in the early spring, you may notice a research collection of trees with small yellow flowers just below and behind the Juniper Collection. These cultivars of Cornelian Cherry Dogwood were planted to identify individuals with exceptional ornamental value (flowering, fruiting, and form) that are hearty in this climate.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Fruit Cornelian Cherry Dogwood is a multi-stemmed, small tree or shrub native to central and southern Europe and western Asia. The seeds for the research collection were obtained from native trees in Romania and Croatia. The numerous, small yellow clusters of flowers appear in late winter/early spring before the leaves emerge. The bright, cherry red fruit is olive-shaped and matures in July. In its native habitat the fruit is used for syrup and jams. The UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center supports several long-term dogwood breeding projects that are scattered around the Arboretum and research land base.

View a list of Previously Featured Plants

Please help us preserve our natural heritage!
No collecting of plant materials is permitted at the UT Arboretum.

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: