Every spring I begin the hunt for the mayapple. This is a plant that grows wild and usually it I find it in ditches alongside the road, but sometimes it is growing in the midst of a group of trees.
It is a plant that you might notice because it usually grows in colonies. My research tells me that these plants may be connected underground through systems of thick rhizomes. (Rhizomes are subterranean stems of a plant often sending shoots and roots from its nodes.)
The leaves are large and umbrella shaped. If that’s all you see, you are missing the magic of this plant. Each stem splits and a flower grows in the V.
Here is a young bud, but look below and see the fully developed flower. Some must be shy or else the view is better looking away from the road. So delicate and beautiful!
Just like an apple blossom from a tree, this flower develops into a miniature apple.
The ripened fruit is edible in moderate amounts, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. I wonder what a massive amount is. The apple is no bigger than an M & M. The American Indians used it for medicinal purposes. It can also be used topically for warts.
Interestingly it is not the apple that develops in May, but the blossom appears in May. Apparently the apple develops later, so maybe I have not seen the fully developed apple. When the weather gets hot the plant seems to wither away until next year.
Now you have met Mayapple, perhaps you will be seeing it as you drive country roads.