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All About Mayapple

By Sharon
September 12, 2011

I learned more from Aunt Bett's stories than I ever learned from books. Here's a lesson that she repeated every fall.

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Sep 11, 2011 7:19 PM CST

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I love these Aunt Bett stories, and I love the mayapple plant. We have them all through the woods here and they, like you, remind me of my youth.

I loved your story, thank you for sharing!
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 11, 2011 7:39 PM CST
Thanks, Dave.
I enjoy writing them, too.
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Sep 11, 2011 10:01 PM CST
Wonderful story with a lesson. I don't think I've ever seen a mayapple.

(I'm afraid that if my aunt had told me what your aunt told you about the Indians, I would have never slept in my own bed again, or walked near those plants in the woods!).
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 11, 2011 10:48 PM CST
Hi Bubbles,
I guess you would have to read the 150+ other Aunt Bett stories that came before this one to understand. She didn't really scare me with her tales, it was more a lesson and I knew I needed to learn it. Always about wildflowers and how her ancestors used them for their medicines. She was my mother's aunt, so she was one of those old folks that I knew I was supposed to listen to and mind.

Fun memories though, so I reckon I learned her lessons pretty well.
Thanks.
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Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
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bsavage
Sep 12, 2011 2:25 AM CST
Well, Sharon, I never knew about Mayapples until now. So interesting... and I feel like I can hear your Aunt Bett through your written words. Well done... I love this story!
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Sep 12, 2011 2:32 AM CST
Great story Sharon, thank you so much.

We had Mayapples in our woods in OH and in our woods here. When I see them, I know winter is over Smiling I never knew the story behind them though and I have a wart on my knee. Hmmmmmmmm.....Might just have to dig some up and put it on my knee.

Love, love, love your Aunt Bett stories - thank you SO much!

Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Sep 12, 2011 7:24 AM CST
Sharon, I too love reading stories of your adventures with Aunt Bett! So probably not so surprising that I also love learning how our ancestors used plants and herbs for medicine. I sure like the story of the bones - as I have not heard this before.

The Mayapples grow in the forest here as well, but I've only discovered them rather deep in the woods. I have seen them in early spring as the umbrella-like leaves emerge, and in May when the flowers start to bloom on the female plants. But, I've yet to venture out in the summer, when the deciduous forest is thick and lush to find the fruits LOL.

Another wonderful story!
Thank you.
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Dahlianut
Calgary, AB Zone 3a
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dahlianut
Sep 12, 2011 9:16 AM CST
Another luvly Aunt Bett story Hurray! I've never seen a Mayapple. I've now put it in the Great Book of Lists to look for. I wonder why it only grows on mounds Confused
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Sep 12, 2011 10:07 AM CST
I love mayapples!! Love your story, too, Sharon!

Being a lover of the changing seasons mayapples are one of the plants that give me hope and charges up my disposition to a more positive attitude! Yay!

I imagine the mounds are dead/decaying tree trunks and branches, uprooted tree roots and such since mayapples seem to love a nice humusy soil. Being on mounds would also give them good drainage, too, eh? Course now, I'll never look at them again w/out thinking of dem bones! :>)

I know exactly where my mayapples are on the land. I should go dig some roots to dry and powder and add to my herbal arsenal!

Good to read a new Aunt Bett story. Hope you are still working on your book!

Shoe
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Sep 12, 2011 10:43 AM CST
I have never seen a Mayapple in person. : )
Wonder if they will grow in my tiny woodland. I could almost hear Aunt Bett's voice as I read the story. I felt mesmerized.
Thank you Sharon for turning on my imagination.
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 12, 2011 10:58 AM CST
I was thinking, as I wrote this article about memories. When I saw those Mayapples in Iowa in the spring, I could just hear Aunt Bett telling that story. You know how sometimes you can get a memory of a voice you haven't heard in years? Well, it was like that. Her words come rolling back. Same with my Granny Ninna's. So I guess those were lessons well learned. They both had ways of phrasing things that piqued my interest, sort of rhythmic, like poetry. I wish I could capture their sound in writing.

Brenda, thank you. I wish for you the beauty of seeing a Mayapple in spring. You would love it.

Vic, I just knew you'd know about the plant. I am sure they are abundant in Ohio, and hoped they grew also down your way. It's the deep woods that they love, the edges of them where the sun peeps in.

Christine, have I told you I love your name? Wildflowers. My favorites, and a topic I know more legend and lore about than any other. And thanks for sharing your pictures of Mayapples with me. I got so busy I failed to add them to the article but it would be so nice if you shared them here. They were great pictures and should be shared. Thank you.

Dahlia, I think Shoe answered your 'growing on mounds' question, though I like Aunt Bett's version better. Of course she told me the story to keep me out of them, and I believed her. I think she probably believed those stories, too, she'd heard them all during her own childhood.

Shoe, it's always so good to hear from you. Someday we should just sit down and match stories about all the plants that have become part of our lives. You and Aunt Bett would have been fast friends.

And the book, well it's sitting in disarray in a cabinet just to the right of my computer desk. It has been riddled with poor timing and other mundane issues for the past year but I think now the issues are over and the book will again take front seat. Thanks for asking.

And thank you all for reading the article.

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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 12, 2011 10:59 AM CST
Thank you, Lynn.
I'm glad you enjoyed the story.
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Sep 12, 2011 11:10 AM CST
My grandma used to take me out on the open hills in S. CA to gather licorice plant, wild mustard and sour grass. Those are the only three I remember. I can smell them and taste them just thinking about them.
She also would spend hours at a time teaching me about the wild creatures God created and how each one had a purpose. She was so loving, quiet and patient. I sure miss her.
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 12, 2011 11:40 AM CST
Those of us who had older relatives who taught us were lucky. Aunt Bett was sort of the 'medicine woman' there in the hills where I grew up. Her mother had been the same. It was particularly during WW II that she started teaching me because she had no daughters and my mom wasn't particularly interested in the medicinal aspects of plants. So even though a generation was skipped, I think in her mind Aunt Bett chose me to learn what she knew.

During that time there were few men around, they were away in the war. The women had no cars, no money, so they lived off the land and were at the mercy of the land. People helped people and made do with what they had. The plants were what they had. It was just a way of life, and until things settled down maybe 10 or more years after the war ended, they continued to live this way. So I had years of learning how to survive with only what nature provided. They were very good years for me.
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Name: Renée
Northern KY
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KyWoods
Sep 12, 2011 1:00 PM CST
Aunt Bett sure was creative! She passed that on to you, too, Sharon--I love reading your stories. And, like Shoe, I will never look at our mayapples the same way again. I've always been careful to step around them so I don't trample any. Not angering the "Indyun" spirits is a good reason to step carefully, too!
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 12, 2011 1:23 PM CST
Thanks Renee, you always understand about Aunt Bett.
And yes about the creative part. She was that.
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Sep 12, 2011 3:22 PM CST
When I first saw the bloom of the Mayapple, I had to get down on my knees to get a good look, just as you described in your story LOL, this was the picture I took. I had no idea what it was but I knew they looked like little umbrellas. Big Grin
Thumb of 2011-09-12/wildflowers/ae4736

Mayapple umbrellas in the spring
Thumb of 2011-09-12/wildflowers/7daba3
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
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Horseshoe
Sep 12, 2011 3:28 PM CST
That's a beautiful shot, Christine! A view from an earthworm's angle.

You should frame that one.

Shoe
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Sep 12, 2011 3:37 PM CST
thank you, Shoe! It is one of my favorites. LOL the earthworm does have a great view! Hilarious!

The last shot confirms that they like lots of humusy soil, I think.

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8 (Zone 8a)
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Ridesredmule
Sep 12, 2011 4:01 PM CST
They come up in the spring from the forestfloors. Loved the story Sharon. Always a pleasure to read your memories...
Thank you Dear Lady....

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