Friday, May 27, 2016


 Another of the native perennials I added to my garden in 2015:

Mayapple, or Podophyllum peltatum

It's a fantastic-looking plant.
To give you an idea of scale:

To see beneath those twin parasol leaves,
one must get right down to ground-level.
It's worth the effort:

The single hidden flower
experiences a microhabitat created by the leaves.

I love the illuminated leaves:


Some folks mention mayapple as edible or medicinal, but the word "toxic" also appears in descriptions of every part of this plant. I'm not even slightly tempted to eat mayapples. But this morning it occurred to me how wonderful it would be if someone would develop a way to use the toxins to safely eliminate only biting, stinging insects with no apparent redeeming value. Mosquitoes. Black flies, deer flies, horse flies. Ticks.

99.99% of the time, I think removing an organism from the world is likely to have unforeseen negative effects. I've sometimes argued vigorously against experimental efforts to control one environmental nuisance by adding another. But when it comes to mosquitoes and biting flies? Personally, I would be willing to take the chance that, once those insects were gone, their previously-unknown positive contribution would be revealed and their demise would be a matter of deep regret.

Call me reckless.