Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, April 11, 2008

Romping in the Yard



The May-apple (Podophyllum peltatum) is up and romping about the yard...They were growing wild in the small wooded area in the way back backyard and I moved them to several other spots around the yard. I remember the first time I saw them, I was walking on a trail at Percy Warner Park, here in Nashville, and there they were a very large colony under a canopy of tall oaks. They have never failed to charm me and after all these years I still delight in turning a corner on a trail and seeing them drifting down a hillside. They are fabulous wildflowers, although they can be thug like and over power weaker plants, I can't imagine not having them in a garden. Right now they are growing with the notorious Vinca m. Now, Vinca is a super thug in my yard and I knew that the Mayapple could hold their own in that confrontation. You can also spot them in a large bed in the front yard.


I have noticed that they are trying to get a toehold into the wildflower bed so I will have to remove them to a safer place...there are some gentle spirited plants that can't take the bullying that May-apple is capable of dishing out. So they will be relocated to a the front bed with their friends, it's a better neighborhood...and they like company and prefer to hang out in large drifts. I'll be especially careful to wear gloves because the rhizome is the most poisonous part. Only the fruit is non-poisonous...turtles and raccoons are known to eat them.

I found this at the 2BeintheWild website: "Although too poisonous to use in home remedies this plant has many medical uses. Native Americans used the root as a strong laxative, to treat worms and for numerous other things."** Now it is used in modern medicine for treating cancer. It contains high concentrations of the compounds podophyllotoxin and alpha and beta peltatin all having anti-cancer properties.

Some handy facts:

Mayapple is a herbaceous perennial plant, that can grow to 18 inches in height. They spread by underground rhizomes and will create a large colony if happy.

Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite, one or two leaves. But only plants with two leaves flower. Each shiny, yellow green, umbrella like leaf is deeply lobed.

Flowers: White. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into late spring. Thought most plants have 6 petals some have up to nine. See the bloom, it's hiding.
and here is an even better look at the flower bud.



Fruit: A berry which looks much like a lime.

Habitat: Rich woods where there is an open canopy. In my yard, they are planted in heavy clay and top dressed with leaf mold. They don't spread as quickly but that is fine.

Range: Throughout the eastern US, southeast US and Canada.

Mayapple is an easy-to-grow perennial, plant it where he and his friends can romp about and not bully other plantings. Plant in rich, slightly moist woods, preferably in the fall. Although, I have moved them in the very early spring when the plants are just peaking out of the soil. See the third photo to see the emerging plant, it is the small white finger like growth near the bottom of the photograph.

Give this guy and his buddies a try, but give them plenty of space and they will make a home in your garden.
Gail






**2beinthewild website

19 comments:

  1. I love May Apples. Geri dug me some and I planted them out but they disappeared! I am so glad to hear they grow through vinca minor because that stuff stops just about everything else. I wish I had never planted it, that and liriope spicata. Thanks for the info, I may try them again in another spot.

    The storm started right at midnight. I suffered no damage but my gutters overflowed and washed all the soil and seedlings out of two trays of seedlings I had on the porch rail. Sigh. I give up! Seedlings have not been good for me this year at all.

    I saw all those pics from spring fling and it was so cool seeing faces with names. I think I somehow picture different faces with the blogs. I have met you and seen Frances on one of her posts but the rest I can only imagine. ttyl

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  2. Tina,

    It says to plant them in the fall but I move them in the spring usually before a big rain....I'll let you know if they survived the move.

    I just broadcast seeds, it's easier....I either over water or under water the seedling in a tray!

    Of course we are having BIG downpours, the Iris are blooming and need to be pummels to shreds!

    Next year Spring Fling will be in Chicago...you can meet everyone then. Gardeners are the nicest people.


    Gail

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  3. Lovely foliage. I've never seen anything like those before.

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  4. Gail, Can humans also eat the fruit? I had heard at one time they could. The lady I visited this morning had forgotten but she knew they were poisonous. Rain is good, but it was too strong last night.

    cinj, they might not grow up there. Do they Gail?

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  5. Tina,

    It says all the way to Canada, so surely they ought to and yes the fruit is edible but I don't want to try it!

    gail

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  6. The fruit is edible only when ripe, otherwise it is slightly poisonous. I think my Mayapples are a little too happy. I ripped out a few this morning. Mine are just little nubs barely peeking out of the soil.

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  7. Hi Gail, Good job educating us about mayapples. We first saw them growing in our back woods when we lived in Kingsport. They happily shared the space with jack in the pulpits, trilliums, bloodroot and lots of ferns, all native. We always checked under the 'umbrellas' for the apple with the kids.

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  8. cinj,
    Here is a site that might be helpful for spring and siummer dreams! http://www.for-wild.org/land/wibirdpl.html

    Gail

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  9. MMD,

    I knew there was a reason I didn't want to eat it! Rip em out...I have a large space for them...and they can be bossy!

    Gail

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  10. Frances,

    Thanks Frances, my grandmother wanted me to be a teacher;-) No way do I have the skills to do that honorable job. It was so sopping wet in the garden that I just couldn't get out there....did you get all the rain? I have so great photos of the yard under water.

    In a minute I am going to check the weather and see what is in store for us;)

    Gail

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  11. Those mayapples sure are cool looking plants.

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  12. They are...how are you?

    Gail

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  13. herself,

    How do I leave a comment at your blog? It says sign in?

    gail

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  14. Oh Gail, Be adventurous! I hear the taste is ok. I would try them if I came upon it. I killed my May apples somehow. It might have been better since I had them in a garden with stuff that might not compete well.

    Frances, Hubby and I really wanted to retire to the tri-cities area. It is so beautiful, but no Army base there. Bet your back woods were nice.

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  15. Tina,

    I will be adventurous with a stock tank!

    Gail

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  16. gail- what great information... i'm not sure if we grow may apples down here... will have to check. Are those Black Magic Elephant Ears I see in your photos? I am trying my hardest to keep those on the wish list but I don't know how much longer I can hold off moving them to the must-have list...
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

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  17. meems, no black magic elephant ears!
    Which are a fabulous plant...I imagine they would look spectacular in your garden...I would have to grow them in a container to make sure they got enough water. It is too dry in my soil duing the summer.

    I vote for the must have list!

    Gail

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  18. I've always loved mayapples, although I don't have them in my garden. They're very striking.

    I got black magic elephant ears last summer, and overwintered the pot in my basement. There are a few tropicals I just can't resist. Meems, put those babies at the top of the list! Lucky you - you can leave them outside all year!

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  19. Thanks for the info on the MayApple, we have our town's native plant sale next weekend and that's one of the plants I wanted to pick up (if there are any left!); they can battle with my vinca any day!

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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