Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Recent acquisition - Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

We went to the annual Master Gardener's sale last weekend and bought a few more plants - as if we needed them. I spotted some Thalictrums for sale so we bought 4 for a very shaded area next to some bald cypresses and my failing woodland garden. We also bought a white shooting star Dodecatheon meadia to accompany the dark pink one we already have. We bought a couple of plants that were unfamiliar to me. One whose flower looks like penstemons' and another if reading the tag is any indication, would eventually look like joe pye weed. And finally we bought a May Apple a common woodland plant in these parts. When we went to the checkout stand the cashier said "why would you buy that plant?" "You can just go into the woods and dig one up." I was taken aback and didn't have a quick rejoinder for the remark so I dumbly let it slide.

I should have said "and destroy a part of the woodland ecology?" I don't understand, if they're trying to make money, why they don't hire or recruit people who encourage people's choices in plants. Well enough rancor. The mayapple only had buds when I brought it home but they opened the next day after I planted it in my small woodland garden. That's good enough for me.

I never really looked closely at mayapple's flowers before. I was quite taken by how lovely they look.

Mayapples are also known as "devil's apple, hog apple, Indian apple, umbrella plant, wild lemon, and American mandrake." "The mayapple is a perennial plant in the barberry family (Berberidaceae)" There's a nice little article on the UT Biotech website.


Blogger Phillip said...

Hmmm, I don't think they should employ that person next time. We had tons of Mayapple for sale at our sale this year. I have it in my garden already and love it.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

Wild collection of plants just isn't cool anymore. When I started out people didn't think too much about it.

I like Mayapple but you are lucky you could see the nice flower, when it fills in it is really hard to see.

Ki, your garden is so far ahead of us. After I saw your Tree Peony post I went and checked mine and the buds are just formed.

Beautiful collection of Rhododendrons. They are one of my favorites.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Phillip,
It was a surprising remark from a so called plant person and one who seems to be uninformed about wildflower preservation.

We didn't have very many for sale here. There were three plants left in the "collector's corner" so I was lucky to have found one.

I've seen a large patch of mayapples in a small wild area not more than 1/2 mile from where I live but have never seen them in flower before. There are so many ticks here, I am not comfortable going into the woods so I'm sure I miss some terrific wildflowers.


Hi Chris,
I do notice that some of the more ecologically aware wildflower plant sellers make it clear that plants they sell are propagated ones and not collected from the wild.

It is amazing that such nice flowers of the mayapple would be hidden by the large umbrella like leaves from man or pollinators.

We've had many days into the seventies so the flowering seems to be compressed this year. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas are about 2-3 weeks ahead of the usual bloom time although the mountain azaleas are just starting to bloom now.

The wood peonies are still blooming but some are dropping their petals and the flowers are large and floppy, unable to close anymore at night. I hope to see some of your peonies especially if they are of other colors than the white ones we have.

Thanks for your comment.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I don't know about New Jersey, but in Pennsylvania it is illegal to dig wild, natural plants. Most of them won't live in a cultivated garden anyway. We have a number of endangered plant species here that passed this enactment. Frankly, I find it just as good to collect cultures and seeds and protect the ones in the wild.

I don't have any in my garden, but totally enjoy them on the way to and from work. They bloom this time of year and in a month or so, they retire back into the ground like the Virginia bluebells and blood root. They do multiply freely.

I hope these do well for you in your natural shade garden. Think about mulching your shade garden with leaf mold rather than mulch if you don't already do that.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Julie,
I don't know for sure but I would think NJ has a similar law. Since I bought the mayapple from the Master Gardeners sale, they hopefully are aware of the ecological damage wild collecting can do and these were grown in someones garden who then donated them.

I did finally spread some leaf mold around the wildflower garden so hopefully that will make a difference. My hepaticas leafed out but didn't produce any flowers this year :( What's up with that?

4:08 PM  
Blogger kate smudges said...

I love Mayapples. I have a wonderful memory of a woodland setting at the Jardin botanique in Montréal. It was filled with Mayapples in flower. I planted one two springs ago - it spread last spring, but seems to have disappeared this spring.

I wonder why your Hepaticas didn't flower this year. Maybe the winter was too mild, since mine suffer horrid temperatures and are in bloom. They've even suffered a bad few nights of frost, which killed off the open flowers. The interesting thing was that the new blooms are far more numerous and a much deeper blue colour. (I did read recently that Hepaticas prefer alkaline soil.)

5:24 PM  
Blogger joey said...

I love Mayapples and can understand why tempted, Ki. Flower addictions are something we all must deal with ...

8:11 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
I hope your mayapples reappear. There is a small patch of woods nearby which has numerous mayapples in spring. It is fairly inaccessible by a road with no shoulders so can only be glimpsed while passing on bike or car. I never saw them blooming.

Thank you for the information that hepaticas prefer alkaline soil. I was disappointed they didn't bloom this year. I will sweeten the soil around the hepaticas and see if they will bloom next year. I hope you post some pictures of yours so I can enjoy them vicariously :)

Hi Joey,
Some more than others "addictions are something we all must deal with ..." ;) Luckily we ran out of space for trees so only small plants and flowers are coveted now.

3:56 AM  
Blogger joco said...

Quick retort for next time:
"Because I don't want to end up in prison."

There was a case recently of two chaps stealing snowdrops from a private wood. They were sentenced to 18 months under the theft act. Mind you: they took 300.000 of them :-)

BTW, can you grow the Twinflower? Linnea borealis or a name similar. I loved that plant when I saw it in upstate NY.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Joco,
Being slow witted, I usually end up with my jaw dropped to the ground. Only a few hours after the encounter am I able to come up with some retort. I guess it's just as well, it keeps me out of trouble.

They must have harvested an acre of snowdrops! :)

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with twinflower. I looked it up and it looks like it would make a splendid woodland plant.

6:58 PM  

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