Have You Met Mayapple?

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.)

Also called hogapple, Indian apple, mayflower, umbrella plant, wild lemon, wild mandrake, American mandrake  or "devil's apple"

Also called hogapple, Indian apple, mayflower, umbrella plant, wild lemon, wild mandrake, American mandrake or “devil’s apple”

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.

bud 2

bud

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!

flower back

flower

Just like an apple blossom from a tree, this flower develops into a miniature apple.

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.

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18 thoughts on “Have You Met Mayapple?

  1. I am fascinated by plants. I have been ever since I took a botany class in college. This post is I mini-botany lesson! I will be on the lookout when I walk from now on… I wonder if I will find it in my neck of the woods.

  2. Mayapples . . . never heard of them until today. Do we have them in the Northwest? Thanks for this lovely slice and the pictures that accompany it. Thanks for sharing the magic with us.

  3. Jaana says:

    I am guaranteed to learn something new every time I read your blog! Mayapple! I don;t just know the name now, I also know what it looks like! Thank you for being a teacher to me!

  4. We used to hunt for these when I was young (and in Missouri). Colorado just doesn’t have that moist climate for them. The flower is so lovely, Elsie. Thanks for telling about them.

  5. Thanks for the great slice on Mayapples. I’m sure I’ve probably seen them, but didn’t know what they were. I’ll look more closely now. They are very interesting to look at and you made them come alive in your slice. Thanks.

  6. How interesting! I’ve never heard of the Mayapple. I wonder if it grows around here…. I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the interesting slice! I learned something new from you today.

  7. I love the Mayapple. I see them on my daily walks through the park. We used to find mushrooms near Mayapple colonies. Not sure if they go together…but it seemed to work for us. Your pictures are wonderful. Love the one of the bloom. Jackie

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