mayapples with blooms

Mayapple Blooms & Ramp “Flags”

Finding mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) blooms feels a little like a treasure hunt.

These plants grow in colonies from a few dozen to a few hundred in spots all over our mountain, unfurling their umbrella-like sprouts in early April, blooming in May, and fruiting in late May and early June.

Mayapple unfurling
Mayapple unfurling

Only the mayapple plants with two leaves will produce a flower, which makes it a bit easier to find the blooms, but since they are hidden down under their wide palm-shaped leaves, it still takes a bit of looking.

mayapple bloom up close
mayapple bloom up close
mayapples with blooms
mayapples with blooms

The mayapple plant is toxic, except for the ripened (yellow) berry (don’t eat the seeds in those berries/apples, though!). I’ve considered trying them, but it’s really too much danger for the payoff, and since our low-to-the-ground wildlife loves to eat the mayapple fruits, I typically leave them alone.

May apples in June
May apples in June

Also this time of year we start to see yellow ramp “flags” all over the forest floor. These are simply the dying ramp leaves, but because they turn a spectacular bright yellow, it makes it very easy to find and harvest a last good haul of ramps.

Next the ramps will be sending up a single flower bud, which will turn into a seedhead sporting a dozen or so black seeds.

Ramp seedheads with seeds
dried ramp seedheads with seeds in October

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