Wendy Willard, FOW Trail Ambassador and Crew Leader
The leaves of mayapples, which look like umbrellas, are designed to be efficient in collecting the weak spring light on the forest floor. The name refers to the single flower, which resembles a nodding apple blossom, found in the crotch of the plant between a pair of large, deeply lobed leaves. The self-sterile flowers will occasionally get pollinated by bees and a yellow fleshy plum-like fruit will result. While mayapple leaves, roots and seeds are poisonous, the ripe, golden fruit is edible and a favorite of box turtles. The plants have a history of medicinal use as an enema or for deworming, and recent research on derivatives has shown promise to selectively kill tumor cells.