A Quadrium in 2018
Wes Hayward, 22 April 2018.
Updates 18May2018, 21June2018.
The middle of March is the time of year when trillium
begin to appear in the woods south of our house in
Beaverton, OR. By the end of the month they
are there in full force, often in beds containing dozens of
flowers, or even more.
Here are some of the trillium we see in March and
April. The flowers themselves are 2 to 4 inches
across with leaf structures that can be as much as a foot
across. Everything happens in groups of three:
3 petals, 3 small leaves under the flower, 3 much larger leaves further
below the flower. The pedals are pure white, but
turn to a lavender as they encounter more sunshine.
Some folks claim there is a lavender
Occasionally a variation occurs where the theme of three is
replaced by a plant with flowers containing four petals.
The groups of leaves also occur with four members.
This is like the four leafed clovers we sought in our
youth. (I don't think I ever did find one of
This is the mutant flower sample that I found this
year. For want of a better term, I've called them quadrium.
This photo of the flower was taken two days after the
initial shot and shows the changing color.
This is not the first quadrium I've seen, but they are
pretty rare. I think it's the 4th one in this
area in period of almost 50 years. I also saw one
several years ago while hiking in the Columbia River
May 18, 2018.
1 Month Later:
We were out of town for almost a
month. I was curious to see the status of the plant
when we returned, shown in the photo above. The
flower is now nothing more than four shriveled petals.
I'm amazed that there is even this much of
the flower left. But the leaves are still
there, as robust as they were in April.
Other plants are growing and will soon dominate .
June 21, 2018.
2 Months Later:
This photo was taken on June 20th. There is little
change from the 1-month observation. It will be
interesting to see just how long the plant lasts.
A second Quadrium was found in this same wooded area, about 200
yards from the first one. This one was in a similar
environment, a secluded plant embedded in a group of traditional
I'm quite amazed that we found this second plant, for the
discovery was long after the season with flowers in
bloom. This is Quadrium #6 for me.
I had previously estimated the probability that a given Trillium
would be the Quad mutation to be perhaps a part or two in
10,000. I'm now thinking that the
Quadrium probability is higher, perhaps a part in
1000. This admittedly esoteric
speculation suggests a more fundamental question about plant
mutations: With patterns of three being very common, is
there a general probability that mutations of 4, will
occur? For example, what is the probability
that a patch of clover will contain one with 4 leafs, and is
this a general characteristic or something specific to every
species? What might the root cause be for such