Your Destination for Information
The following pictures were taken April 14th on the woodland trail at Hayswood Park.
Note the three unmottled leaves and the white, stalked flower with curled-back petals.
Some mayapples are single-stemmed and others are double (two leaves). The flowers and fruits will always be borne at the crook of the double-stemmed plants.
Look for the long, deeply-lobed leaves (similar to a waterleaf plant).
The sheath or "pulpit" of this plant is called a spathe, while the "jack" is a type of flower stalk called a spadix. You can also see these features on the Jack's cousin, the peace lily. As jack-in-the-pulpit matures, the male flower parts die off and the female parts develop--you could say that it becomes a "jill-in-the-pulpit." Jack-in-the-pulpit is also called Indian turnip since some tribes cooked and ate the root; however, this plant is highly poisonous and irritating if not done properly.
Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata
The lovely thing about garlic mustard is that each individual plant can produce nearly 8,000 seeds and shoot said seeds 10 feet away from the parent plant. In addition, it poisons all the plants around it (including trees) to reduce competition for its babies. Even if you manage to hand-pull every plant, the seeds may stay viable in the ground for a decade, meaning you have to keep pulling it year after year to prevent it from reestablishing. It can take years for the soil to recover. The deer don't eat it; instead they eat all the native flowers that are already struggling to survive. Wipe your boots before entering and leaving the woods! And if you have this in your yard, pull it before the seeds develop (i.e. right now). The neighboring forests will thank you!
Not blooming but still cool:
Named for Thomas Jefferson. Its white, 8-petaled flower resembles bloodroot. Keep a watch out for young mayapples--some can be mistaken for twinleaf. Seen also at the upper-right of this photo, Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense. Peek beneath the heart-shaped leaves to look for the small, blood-red, jug-shaped flowers. Take a sniff--they smell like rotting meat! Yum!
This is one of the plants you often miss because its flowers, white in this case, are so small. The USDA Plants Database doesn't record false mermaid in Harrison County, so I might be wrong on this ID.
Also present but not featured (see the previous article for photos):
False rue anemone
Common blue violet
Nature Club, for children in 1st grade and up, meets monthly on Thursdays at 4 PM. Visit this link to see our current schedule and sign up!
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