April Showers bring May…Apples?

So a few weeks ago I was hiking with The Dee-oh-gee (at Sprague Brook Park in Colden, NY) and I happened across this strange-looking plant:

All right who knows what this is? It's only about 3-inches tall. #mysteryplant #SpragueBrookPark #wny

Odd little thing, innit? I’d never seen anything like it, to my recollection.

A week or so later, I’m hiking with the Dee-oh-gee (at Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora, NY), and I happened across an entire crop of those little plants:

These odd little plants are all over Knox Farm. I wonder what they are. #knoxfarm #wny #EastAurora

And then yesterday, I’m hiking with the Dee-oh-gee (at Chestnut Ridge Park here in sunny Orchard Park), and I happened across another crop of those things, even bigger now.

I'll probably spend all summer documenting whatever these plants are. #ChestnutRidge #wny #OrchardPark

Well, a helpful Instagram user has come to my rescue! They are “May apples”, or podophyllum, so named because the flower that generally blossoms from these plants in May that become fruits later on. May apples grow in large colonies, with the ‘plants’ actually sprouting from a single root that has spread beneath the ground. That’s why I’m seeing large patches of these things, when I spot them in the WNY woods.

Wikipedia indicates that they are poisonous, but this article indicates that the fruit can be eaten, albeit with preparation and quantity in mind. I’m not sure if I’m quite that curious, but still, a bit of learning is useful — especially when it’s something that I’ve been observing on my own!

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One Response to April Showers bring May…Apples?

  1. Lynn says:

    I love these things. We have hundreds of them around here every year. They have a single white flower on the underside of the leaf. I posted a picture of one years ago but I'm too lazy to look it up now.

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