Sunday, May 1, 2011

Young Mayapple leaf surprises

Once again, I am struck by how much I missed in all my earlier days in the forest, before I got completely consumed with macro photography and started to see things differently. "Oh, look, there's a mayapple," I'd say, having what turned out to be a sort of vague vision of them. I had seen the emerging young leaves before, when they were still twisted around the stem like a little rod ("candling"), but I had never noticed that sometimes there is one leaf, and sometimes there are two.

A single "candling" mayapple leaf, cool in and of itself
 But the double-leaved ones are pretty awesome:
Podopyllum peltatum, two leaves.

Double-leafed mayapple, with fuzzy leaf edges.

Don't know what to caption this, I am tongue-tied.

Here's a thing I read somewhere: "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 blah blah blah blah blah." Well, that just says that sometimes there is one leaf and sometimes there are two, sorry. There was more info from the U. of Arkansas Agriculture Extension Service: "During the first several years, the mayapple leaf is round and unbranched, too juvenile to flower. When adulthood is reached, the stem...terminates in a "Y"-shaped fork with two leaves." So it has to do with how old the plant is. Now I know.

There's some other cool stuff about their lives on that site--mayapples don't just germinate, show up in spring and *poof* there's a flower and then's a bit more complicated. I'll just say that they can count to four.