The native plant Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), is such a unique plant it’s impossible to miss. It’s a joy to see Mayapple unfurl in the early spring and mature to a stand of what looks like green umbrellas.
Mayapple is considered a spring ephemeral or a plant that comes to life in early April and completes its life cycle by mid June.
Other spring ephemerals include Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginca), Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) and Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) to name a few.
These plants sprout in the early spring, and grow to maturity, flower and produce seeds as deciduous trees completely leaf out. Spring ephemerals vanish when the summer heat bears down and they lay dormant until next spring.
Mayapple rises up like green umbrellas forming colonies by underground rhizomes. As a native to the northeast, zones 3-8, they are completely self-sustaining if situated in dappled shade, with rich soil. This perennial grows to 12-18” tall.
The “apple” is the fruit that follows the single white flower that blooms in May. A flower will sprout on a stem that holds two leaves, right where the single stem diverges for each leaf. It’s not a showy flower, mostly hidden by the canopy of the large deeply lobed leaves.
Mayapple is a great shade tolerant plant, that naturalizes in a woodland setting. Remember that since it disappears in June it should be inter-planted with other plants that will follow and fill in the space where they once stood. Such as fern or hostas.
Planting natives like Mayapple, and the other spring ephemerals noted above will take your gardens to an entirely new level. Broadening your appreciation for all things spring!
Let us help make your spring gardens complete by planting native woodland species.