IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial plant is 1–1½' tall. Some plants are unbranched and produce a single leaf from a long stalk, while others produce a pair of leaves on long petioles at the apex of this stalk. The stalks are light green, glabrous, and round. The leaves are up to 1' long and across; they are orbicular, palmately lobed, cleft, and dentate along the margins. There are 5-9 lobes per leaf that are deeply divided. Like the stalks, the leaves are glabrous. On plants with a single leaf, the petiole joins the leaf blade in the middle, creating an umbrella-like appearance; on plants with a pair of leaves, the petioles join the leaf blades toward the inner margin of each leaf. Plants with a pair of leaves produce a single nodding flower where the petioles branch from each other. This flower is about 1½" across and has 6-9 broad white petals. There are twice the number of stamens as there are petals and a single superior ovary with a mealy glob of styles at its apex. These reproductive organs are pale yellow-orange. The sepals are deciduous and drop from the flower at an early stage of its development. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. There is a pleasant floral scent. Each flower is replaced by an ovoid berry that is fleshy and contains several seeds. It is about 2" long and turns yellow when ripe. This berry is produced only when cross-pollination of the flower occurs. The root system is fibrous and produces long rhizomes. Mayapple often produces dense vegetative colonies that exclude other spring-flowering plants.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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