The Marvelous Mayapple
The marvelous Mayapple can be found in most every Ohio State Park. They grow well in areas sheltered by open forests, or partially shaded border habitats. It is also known as Umbrella Plant, Devil’s Apple, Wild Lemon and several other names.
Easily crowding out other plants, the mayapple spreads by rhizome and is very hardy. It is a perennial plant that commonly grows to 18 inches in height. The roots of the mayapple are made up of thick tubers and long fibers (the rhizome) that connect the plants underground.
The mayapple plant is comprised of a single stalk with one or two umbrella-like leaves. These leaves are larger than a human hand with five to seven deeply lobed divisions. The first few years, a mayapple has only a single leaf. It isn’t until it develops its second leaf that the mayapple will flower and produce its fruit.The flower of a mayapple is small and white. It is about two inches across and it grows from the fork in the stem. After the flower matures and falls off its stem, the mayapple fruit begins to grow in its place. The fruit looks like a greenish-yellow egg and is about the same size as an egg too. The fruit is called an “apple”, which is where the plant got its name.
Most of the mayapple plant is very poisonous, and can make you very sick. The marvelous thing about mayapples is that doctors and researchers have discovered that the rhizomes can help treat some types of cancer. The only part of the mayapples that isn’t poisonous is the apple, and even it can make you very sick if you eat it!
Isn’t the Mayapple marvelous?