Growing Mayapple Plants In Your Garden
Mayapples are native woodland plants that are widespread across most of eastern North America south to Texas in zones 3 to 8. Mayapple plants in gardens are grown primarily for their deeply cut, umbrella-like leaves. The blooming period is short, lasting only two to three weeks in mid- to late spring. The flowers, which resemble apple blossoms and typically appear in May (hence the name), aren’t usually numerous, and although they are attractive in their own right, they are usually hidden under the big, showy leaves. The low-growing foliage remains attractive until it dies down in late summer. Mayapple wildflowers are difficult to grow from seeds, but the rhizomes are easily established. This is a good time to mention that, like many rhizomatic plants, mayapple can be somewhat aggressive in certain conditions. Mayapples thrive in dry, semi-shady conditions. Consider planting mayapple wildflowers under the dappled light provided by pines or other deciduous trees. They work well in woodland gardens.
Pollinated flowers are followed in early summer by fleshy, ovoid to lemon-shaped fruits (a berry) containing several tan seeds. These green “apples” ripen to a golden color, sometimes tinged with pink or purple, later in the summer. The 1½-2 inch long fruits (but not the seeds) are edible, but bland, when ripe and can be used in jellies or preserves. They may also be eaten by box turtles and other wildlife that disperse the seeds. Plants will self-seed under ideal growing conditions.