Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple loves company and can be found growing in large patches under deciduous trees in moist open woods. When its big green leaves unfurl themselves, a single creamy-white wax-like flower is found hiding beneath them.

It is sometimes called "umbrella plant" because the first sign of it in early spring is a shoot looking like a closed umbrella. When this shoot reaches about a foot tall, the "umbrella" slowly unfolds until it reaches about a foot across. Plants with two leaves will have one blossom at the fork where the leaves join the stem, but plants with one leaf are immature and will not bloom.

The nodding white flower, sometimes two inches across, has six to nine petals and twice as many yellow stamens. The root, leaves and stem are poisonous. The ripe fruit, or apple (it is really a berry) can be eaten but it is rather insipid.

Mayapple is an easy-to-grow perennial and can quickly crowd out weaker plants. Large colonies develop from long, creeping rhizomes. Plant in rich, slightly moist woods, preferably in the fall.