I am an avid runner. Usually my routes take me through neighborhoods and parks. I like running through trails in parks to see what’s growing in the woodland areas. It’s a good horticultural lesson for me. Recently I ran across one woodland plant that is waking up from its winter slumber.
It is the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). It is a native woodland plant that grows best in zones three to eight. This herbaceous perennial likes to grow in colonies in deciduous forest and along riverbanks and roadsides. It grows by way of rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems. Once the plant starts to grow, the stem is topped with an umbrella-like leaf that has five to nine lobes.
Mayapples emerge in the early spring before leaves are produced on trees. Once temperatures begin to rise the plant goes dormant by mid-summer. The plant does produce a white rosecolored flower into May. If the plant is pollinated properly, it will produce a fruit which can be used in jams and jellies.
Gardeners like this plant because of its attractive foliage and flowers. This plant does well in woodland gardens or native plant gardens. Mayapples need partial or full shade to thrive. They grow best in rich, well-drained soils that contain an abundance of organic matter. This plant has the ability to self-seed under optimum growing conditions. It has no major insect or disease problems. Again, Mayapples do go dormant in the summer.
I like Mayapples because of their umbrella-like growth. They are beautiful plants that cover the forest floors of parks throughout this area. They are a welcomed sight of spring!
During these times of uncertainty, you can stay active working in your garden. Think about what you would like to plant this spring, mulch your trees and shrubs and inspect your landscape for insect pests and diseases. Walk or jog around your neighborhood to see what others have growing in their landscapes. That is what I enjoy doing! Be safe out there.