Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Apples in Spring!

Maddy here!

It's the time of year for May Apples, being May and all. This year the mountains of Virginia are thick with them. Here are two pictures I took yesterday of what I call a May Apple Meadow, sheltered beneath a forest canopy not far from my house (Douthat State Park).

These May Apples (Podophyllum peltatum) erupted from the forest floor in April, bloomed their single white flower in May, and now their tiny fruit (see bottom picture) will steadily grow and ripen through the summer.

You can see that the plant has a single base stem from which a pair of umbrella-like leaves branch and rise up to shelter the fruit that forms at the leaf junction. Some plants in the picture above only have a single stem and leaf. These are first year plants and won't produce any flowers or fruit. No junction, no fruit. Cool, huh?

Supposedly, the fruit has a lemon flavor, but there is no way I'm going to taste test it. I've read that the May Apple fruit is edible and that some people eat them, but it is also reported that it is toxic in quantity. I choose to appreciate the plant only for its physical beauty and avoid ingesting any part of it.

Why? It's just a simple a safe rule for me. Since parts of the plant (leaves, stem and root) are definitely considered toxic, I avoid ALL of it. That's seems a logical approach for me since it's easy to do, and so far it's worked. No toxin issues with me.

My little brother, Mica, is safe because Mom can't even get him to eat a real apple. The Apple iPod is the only apple he knows anything about. Me, I'm a Granny Smith kind of girl. Tart and juicy!

This past summer when I was in Krybos, I nearly flipped when I saw my pet gopher, Digby, eating May Apples as fast as he could cram them in. I tried to stop him but he quickly pointed out, speaking in a Scottish accent, no less, that Krybos May Apples are not toxic at all. I was so stunned that he could speak English, I forgot all else. Still, I prefer to be guaranteed safe rather than hurling my guts up, or worse! And besides, Digs is a native of Krybos. Maybe he's just immune to any ill effects.

Below, I've included links to two great sites on May Apples.

That's all for now!
    "May Apple was once called the witches umbrella and thought to be employed by them as a poison, which may not be untrue! The English version of this plant has much lore told of it, being called Manroot (mandrake) believed to be alive and its screams when pulled from the ground would render a man permanently insane."

No comments:

Post a Comment