I think that no single wildflower symbolizes spring, or is more familiar to even the most inexperienced woods wanderer, as well as large-flowered white trillium.
Trillium's are well named. With three leaves, three sepals, three petals, 6 stamens - three times two - and a three-parted ovary, they are preeminently "tri" lilies. Over the past two weeks plants have broken the leaf litter and sent dark green shoots into the spring air. Wrapped in the erect leaves the pointed bud was protected during the push through the cool soil and forest litter. Once up the leaves have unfolded like a drag chute and the bud became exposed.
Now the buds are opening and the trillium season has begun. I found numerous flowering plants at several places along the Passage in Ohiopyle State Park over the past week. More plants will be coming up and into bloom so the next couple weeks should be good for the great white trillium.
Red trillium, also called wake robin or stinking Benjamin is also up. However it tends to bloom just a bit later. Usually the two don't mix but you will find some locations that both are near to each other.
It's always been interesting that at Finnegan's Ledges, where the Loyalhanna Limestone foundation builds rich neutral soils with outstanding wildflower populations, white trillium are on the slightly acid side of the outcrop. In the midst of the limestone is the red trillium. At Harnedsville, Mile 58, the same limestone feeds a similarly good wildflower colony, but only red trillium grows on the Harnedsville Slopes.
Which ever trilliums you're interested in finding, now is the time to search.