Adder’s Tongue

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Liliales Liliaceae Erythronium Erythronium americanum

  • Plant Type: Perennial Herb.
  • Common Name: Adder’s Tongue, Yellow Adder’s Tongue, Yellow Trout Lily, Yellow Fawn Lily, Yellow Dog-Toothed.
  • Color: Yellow
  • Flower Dimensions: The tepals are 0.79- 1.3 inches in length.
  • Flowering Season: Early Spring (April).

Adder’s Tongue

Adder’s Tongue Plants

Erythronium americanum is a perennial herb that belongs to the family Liliaceae. This species is a native range of Eastern North America.

  • Erythronium americanum can grow to a height of 0.25 to 0.5 feet and a spread of 0.25 to 0.5 feet.
  • Adder’s Tongue plants are colony-forming perennials.
  • The leaves of the Adder’s Tongue are mottled with brown and purple. The leaves are 8 to 23 cm in length.
  • A single flower blooms atop the tulip-like basal leaves. The flowers of the Adder’s Tongue are bell or lily-shaped and yellow. They are made up of 3 petals and 3 petal-like sepals.
  • The perianth parts of the Adder’s Tongue flowers are separate. Their fruit is a capsule.
Where can Adder's Tongue be mostly spotted?
Flower WatchingNorth America

Interesting Facts about Adder’s Tongue

  • The common name of ‘Adder’s Tongue is given because of the shape of the flowering shoot. It has a tongue shape and resembles the open mouth of a snake. The common name trout-lily[1] is given because of the mottled leaves and the flowers’ appearance during the trout fishing season.
  • The Erythronium americanum is also called Dog-Toothed Violet because the plant grows from tiny corms that resemble dogteeth. The flower resembles violets but is not a violet family member.
  • The genus Erythronium is from the Greek word “erythros” which means red. The specific epithet americanum means North or South America.
  • A study[2] investigated the bulb and leaf carbon metabolism of E. americanum to know the mechanism that allows its improved growth at low temperatures. It was found that the longer leaf life span and larger bulbs during low temperatures are because of the plant’s improved equilibrium between carbon fixation capacity and sink strength.
  • The Cherokee and the Haudenosaunee[3] used the Adder’s Tongue for medicine. This includes healing wounds, reduction of fever, and preventing pregnancy.

Suggested Reading: Flower Types with Pictures

Cite This Page

APA7MLA8Chicago (2023, May 30). Adder’s Tongue. Bio Explorer. "Adder’s Tongue" Bio Explorer, 30 May 2023, "Adder’s Tongue" Bio Explorer, May 30 2023.
Key References
  • [1]“Erythronium americanum – Plant Finder”. Accessed April 17, 2023. Link.
  • [2]“Source-sink imbalance increases with growth temperature in the spring geophyte Erythronium americanum | Journal of Experimental Botany | Oxford Academic”. Accessed April 17, 2023. Link.
  • [3]“Trout Lily – CornellBotanicGardens”. Accessed April 17, 2023. Link.


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