Posts Tagged ‘Mayapple’

Most flowers have blooms at the end of their stems or at least in places above their leaves. Each spring, though, I encounter Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum), a weird plant that seems to work in a totally different way. It puts out large umbrella-shaped leaves and eventually a single white blossom appears at the juncture point where the stem branches off in two directions. If you don’t know that the blooms are there, it is easy to miss them, because the large leaves hide them from view.

I saw a large number of Mayapples on Wednesday at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge at the edge of Fort Belvoir, a nearby Army base where I have seen Mayapples in the past, but most often before or after they had flowered. I tried to capture the unique way that this plant grows in these photos, which was a bit of a challenge, because the blooms are so close to the ground.

I came across a fascinating article on the Wisconsin Horticulture website that noted that Mayapple¬† “typically grows in colonies from a single root in open deciduous forests and shady fields, riverbanks and roadsides…The upright stems grow from a shallow, creeping, branched underground rhizome, composed of many thick dark or reddish-brown tubers connected by fleshy fibers and downward spreading roots at the nodes. Each terminal bud produces a shoot. The mostly unbranched 12-18 inch tall stems are topped with umbrella-like (peltate) leaves. The leaves remain furled as the stem elongates in the spring, unfolding when the stem nears its full height. Each smooth, pale green, rounded, palmate leaf has 5-9 shallowly to deeply cut lobes. There are one or two leaves per stem, each up to a foot across. Only stems with more than one leaf will flower. Mayapple often forms large, dense colonies in the wild.”

As most of you know, I focus mostly on wildlife in my photography, but my almost insatiable sense of curiosity draws me to anything weird and wonderful that attracts my attention, like these Mayapples.




© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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