Minnesota Trout-lily / Center For Plant Conservation
Search / Plant Profile / Erythronium propullans
Plant Profile

Minnesota Trout-lily (Erythronium propullans)

A closeup view of this trout lily in flower. Photo Credit: Welby Smith
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Liliaceae
  • State: MN
  • Nature Serve ID: 130535
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/08/1989

This plant is a spring ephemeral, showing itself in only fourteen populations in the woods of Minnesota during the months of April and May and disappearing from sight by early June. This plant is a mystery, as it is very rarely found producing seeds. It grows from a bulb with an underground vegetative runner, and only 1/10th of the population reproduces each year. (USFWS 1986a) This lily has the tapering, lightly mottled green/gray leaves typical of trout lilies. The longer leaf can be 1-2cm broad, with a general range of 1-3cm. These leaves are found in pairs when in bloom and single when not. The flowers of this species, when produced, are very small. They have four to six white petals and are about 8-14mm in diameter (less than dime sized when open). Petal colors can range from pink, to pale violet, to an almost flesh tone, to white, to gray white, with 4 to 6 petals. A traditional set of 6 petals is unusual. Only 12% of the population has this. Stamen are heteromorphic, and usually of unequal length. The fruit, when produced, is 4.5-9mm long. Unlike other species of trout lily in the same region, the fruit of this species remains nodding instead of becoming erect. This plant appears to reproduce most often from vegetative offshoots, which appear at a distance from the plant, not right next to it.

Where is Minnesota Trout-lily (Erythronium propullans) located in the wild?


Found on wooded north to northwest/northeast-facing slopes and floodplains along two rivers in two counties in Minnesota. This species is found in a zone 15 to 27 meters from stream beads. The Minnesota trout lily prefers rich, black, well drained soil with high water capacity that are neutral to slightly acidic. (USFWS 1986a)Found growing with other spring ephemerals, including Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), white trout-lily (Erythronium albidum), and snow trillium (Trillium nivale). (USFWS 1986a)


Found along the Cannon and Zumbro Rivers in Rice and Goodhue counties in Minnesota. (USFWS 1986a)

States & Provinces:

Minnesota Trout-lily can be found in Minnesota

Which CPC Partners conserve Minnesota Trout-lily (Erythronium propullans)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known only from small portions of two drainage systems in southeastern Minnesota where there are fourteen known sites harboring fewer than 400 genetic individuals. Because the species only reproduces vegetatively, dispersal beyond the immediate vicinity of established plants is limited to occasional uprooting by floodwaters. This geographically restricted trout lily is one of only two plant species endemic to Minnesota. Most sites are inside state scientific and natural areas, public parks, and private preserves, or are being protected voluntarily by private landowners.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Successional changes in habitat threaten this shade intolerant herb. Other threats include: Urban development Agricultural activities and development Horticultural collecting Reproductive Sterility Trampling due to human foot traffic Motorbikes T

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

At the time of listing, 14 sites of 1 to 3 acres each were known. (USFWS 1986a)

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Thomas Morley has investigated apparent hybrids between Erythronium albidum and E. propullans. (Morley 1993)

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Two sites are owned by The Nature Conservancy, both of which are being managed for the specie's benefit. (USFWS 1985b) A boardwalk was constructed at one State Park where this species is found to allow visitors to observe the rare lily without disturbing it. (Sather 1990)


Be the first to post an update!

Taxon Erythronium propullans
Authority Gray
Family Liliaceae
CPC Number 1838
ITIS 196386
Duration Perennial
Common Names dwarf trout lily | dwarfadder's tongue | fawn lily | Minnesota adder's tongue | Minnesota fawn lily | Minnesota trout-lily | Minnesota fawnlily | Minnesota trout lily | Minnesota dwarf trout lily
Associated Scientific Names Erythronium propullans
Distribution Found along the Cannon and Zumbro Rivers in Rice and Goodhue counties in Minnesota. (USFWS 1986a)
State Rank
State State Rank
Minnesota S1
Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Mining bees Andrena carlini Confirmed Pollinator Link

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today