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Mayapples

During a rainy week like this one, is there a more fitting device to use than an umbrella? Not likely!

Did you know that there’s a native wildflower whose leaves are shaped like an umbrella? This plant, called the Mayapple, has a hidden flower underneath its umbrella-like leaves. However, only the mature plants with two leaves will produce these flowers—the single leaf Mayapples will not. These wildflowers grow best in shaded, mixed-deciduous forests, such as those that can be found in the MetroParks!

Mayapple from above

Let’s take a look at the word “Mayapple.” “May,” and “apple.” It’s named this because the buds begin to bloom around the month of May. The fruits will develop from these bee-pollinated flowers during the early summer. What common fruit do you think they resemble? If you guess an apple, you’d be correct!

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The fruits are important for wildlife—specifically for the Eastern Box Turtle. These terrestrial turtles love the fruits, and play a vital role in distributing Mayapple seeds.

The Mayapple flowers are beginning to bloom in the MetroParks. Carefully take a peek under the “umbrella” if you see one on a trail to see this special, hidden flower.

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