Portrait of a Mayflower

Nadya Johnson

Joined January 2009

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Artist's Description

Podophyllum Peltatum
Barberry family
(Illinois Wildflower)

FEATURED in SPRING BLOOMS
FEATURED in NATURE’S WONDERS

Top 10 in Challenge! (Wildflowers of the Midwest) MIDWESTERN US PHOTOGRAPHY

As its name suggests, these flowers bloom in early May. Its name refers to its small oblong green or yellow fruit. The plant is also called American mandrake, may pop, devil’s apple, hog apple, Indian apple, umbrella plant, wild lemon, raccoon berry, or duck’s foot. They are common in the forests of mid-America and sometimes grow in open meadows or along the roads where they’ve “escaped” the woods.

The plant itself resembles an umbrella and is found in moist, open woods, usually in the shade.

This photo was a team effort! My husband held the upper part (the stem and leaves) aside with a stick so I could catch the flower upright, in the sun. Normally they dangle downwards underneath their “parasols” so a head-on view is difficult to get. This a small flower (1 & 1/2" across, approx). The adjacent leaf is on another plant and shows the radial spokes of the “umbrella.”

Here, the fruit is not yet formed. By mid-May, small green “apples” will appear and the petals vanish. Although the fruit is edible when ripe, USE CAUTION! Before they ripen, they are poisonous. Even so, mayapples are sometimes made into jellies, jams and pies – by those who know what they’re doing! – and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant is currently an active ingredient in certain anti-cancer drugs. Native Americans once used it as a love potion and protection charm. (Again, they knew what they were doing! It is NOT recommended that you try it out yourself!)

I took this in the forest near our home in Jo Daviess County, northwest Illinois.

Canon Rebel XTI/ kit lens (tight crop)

Artwork Comments

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