(Podophyllum peltatum) Barberry family

Flowers - White, solitary, large, unpleasantly scented, nodding

from the fork between a pair of terminal leaves. Calyx of 6

short-lived sepals; 6 to 9 rounded, flat petals stamens as many

as petals or (usually) twice as many; 1 pistil, with a thick

stigma. Stem: 1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, from a long, running

rootstock. Leaves: Of flowerless stems (from separate

root-stock), solitary, on a long petiole from base, nearly 1 ft.

across, rounded, centrally peltate, umbrella fashion, 5 to 7

lobed, the lobes 2-cleft, dark above, light green below. Leaves

of flowering stem 1 to 3, usually a pair, similar to others, but

smaller. Fruit: A fleshy, yellowish, egg-shaped, many-seeded

fruit about 2 in. long.

Preferred habitat - Rich, moist woods.

Flowering Season - May.

Distribution - Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to

Minnesota and Texas.

In giving this plant its abridged scientific name, Linnaeus

seemed to see in its leaves a resemblance to a duck's foot

(Anapodophyllum) but equally imaginative American children call

them green umbrellas, and declare they unfurl only during April

showers. In July, a sweetly mawkish, many-seeded fruit,

resembling a yellow egg-tomato, delights the uncritical palates

of little people, who should be warned, however, against putting

any other part of this poisonous, drastic plant in their mouths.

Physicians best know its uses. Dr. Asa Gray's statement about the

harmless fruit "eaten by pigs and boys" aroused William Hamilton

Gibson, who had happy memories of his own youthful gorges on

anything edible that grew. "Think of it, boys!" he wrote; "and

think of what else he says of it: 'Ovary ovoid, stigma sessile,

undulate, seeds covering the lateral placenta each enclosed in an

aril.' Now it may be safe for pigs and billygoats to tackle such

a compound as that, but we boys all like to know what we are

eating, and I cannot but feel that the public health officials of

every township should require this formula of Dr. Gray's to he

printed on every one of these big loaded pills, if that is what

they are really made of."

MARYLAND FIGWORT BEE PLANT KNOTTED FIGWORT HEALALL PILEWORT MAYFLOWERS facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail