When the conical white shoot starts forth from the long root of the mayapple and in April emerges with thin white skin, the mayapple is on its way through the first of a number of changes in appearance before it blooms. When the sheath splits, the plant pushes upward. A blossoming plant is known even now by the small greenish-white hud which is perched at the top of the stem, with the two bronzy leaves neatly rolled and wrapped below it. Younger plants which will not bloom have only one leaf. In a few days of mild moisl weather, the leaves begin to unfurl, so that the young mayapple plants stand broad-spread in the sun. The firm white stem rapidly grows upward to its appointed height of about a foot. Mayapples do not grow singly. They are colonial and often cover broad areas in the woods.
Podophyllum peltatum L.
April - May Oak woods. Cut-over pastures.
There in the pleasant May morning the mayapple flower open.- a broad, white, cupped, waxen blossom which ha- a superficial quality of the dove orchid flower, though it actually is not at all like it. There are curving thick petals around the cluster of golden stamens and the -tout green, barrel-shaped pi-til.
For a week or so the mayapple colonics are all in bloom. Then a- May advances, the petals fall and the ripened pistil expand- greenly and unobtrusively all summer long. The mayapple leaves grow leathery and sometime- ragged; they turn yellow and brown and most of them disappear by late summer. By then the fruit has grown to the shape and size of a -mall lemon and is pale yellow, full of silvery, edible pulp. The roots, stems, and leaves, however are said to he poisonous.