A few warm days was all it took for the mayapple to begin sprouting from its hiding places on the forest floor. Mayapple, or Mandrake, or Mayflower, is a native perennial common all over the eastern United States. The mayapple name is attributed to its apple-like (sort of) flower which develops in May. It is common in part because all parts of the plant are toxic, except the ripe fruit, so it is generally not disturbed during its brief growing season. That toxicity can be turned to advantage for us because a chemical in the plant is effective as a cancer treatment. Mayapple grows in patches because it propagates by underground rhizomes. It can successfully reproduce by seed, as well, especially when the fruit has been eaten by a box turtle and the seeds have passed through the turtle’s digestive tract.
Thoughts on the park, its residents and how to preserve its natural beauty.