Mayapple and Resolutions: Sources of Healing for a Hurting World

MAYAPPLE Podophyllum peltatum

MAYAPPLE
Podophyllum peltatum

By Orrin Morris

Many of the resolutions we make for the new year focus on family, economy, and national and global harmony. Resolutions are based on hopes: hope that our sons and daughters will be kept from harm’s way; that we can relate in mutual ways to people whose backgrounds differs from ours; that we become more sympathetic of their struggles in America.   After all, most of us enjoy the delightful taste of their cuisine.  If you have forgotten, may I remind you that only the American Indians are not immigrants.

May the resolutions we make aid in helping peace to be achieved soon, and that it will be worldwide, and may our national economy be robust without the aid of war efforts.

The Christmas season we are completing was foretold in Isaiah. One of the verses said (9:6) “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

The wildflower we examine today thrives in rich moist woods either near a stream or in a bog fed by a spring.  Like many of our resolutions, it is a rich source of healing and hope for those in need.

Mayapple is native to North America and was introduced to the early settlers by the American Indians. It is the only species in the barberry family that grows this far south. Blue cohosh and American barberry, both present in the north Georgia mountains, are kin. Neither of them inhabit the East Metro area.

Each mayapple plant has only one bloom, a nodding white flower that emerges in the split of the stem between two very large deeply lobed umbrella like leaves, as pictured. The flower is about 2 inches in diameter, somewhat larger than the true apple blossom.

The name mayapple is associated with the time of its appearance and its fragrance that is similar to the apple blossom. There are six to nine waxy white petals, and generally, there are twice as many stamens as there are petals.

The plant ranges in height from 12 to 22 inches. The two very large leaves, each about 12 inches wide, shield the bloom as pictured. Mayapples bloom from April to June and require rich woodland soils in damp shady clearings. They often grow in large colonies. A good example of a colony can be observed on the lowest loop of the watershed trail at Panola Park.

The fruits, which appear in August and September, are large lemon-shaped berries that are occasionally gathered to make jelly. But a word of caution — the unripened fruit is poisonous, as are the roots and leaves. Nevertheless, two modern drugs are derived from mayapple: podophyllin and etoposide.

May our resolutions be as healing, our hopes as rich, and our outreach as inspirational.

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