The Trout Lily is a Spring Ephemeral plant that can still be found blooming in our neck of the woods, which is Central Pennsylvania.
The best place to look for them is near water in forested areas. Lowlands adjacent to creeks, lakes, and backwaters of rivers are the places where the trout lily makes its home. You’ll find Trout Lily blooming in the same habitat as the white-flowering Bloodroot.
(Photos taken 28 April 2015. Click on a photo to see a larger image.)
The right time to look for the yellow and maroon flowers of trout lilies is when the trees are just starting to make their new leaves for the year. The canopy will be mostly bare when these members of the Lily Family will be blooming.
At Little Buffalo State Park near Newport, PA you’ll find them along the Mill Race Trail where the trail is close to the creek. In some areas you’ll see a massive number of plants, like in the photo below. Trout Lily is one of the early spring-blooming plants that occurs in mass quantities.
The section of the trail that passes through the firebreak, where all the trees have been removed to protect the electricity right-of-way, is still near the creek but you won’t find the trout lily blooming there. The ecosystem has been radically changed by the tree removal so this location that receives full sun is now the wrong kind of habitat.
A close-up look at the yellow flowers shows maroon stripes on the back side of the sepals, which you can see looking down on the flowers. Also, the distinctive pair of mottled leaves tells us we’re looking at Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum.