|Mayapple rust- Mark Bower|
|Mayapple flower bud|
Linda Ellis found a small patch of pink mayapples along Red Bridge Road. Although the pink colored blossoms were new to me, it is a normal variant. Nature is full of little surprises like this, rewarding those who get down low and look closely.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center describes mayapples below.
"Mayapple is unique in that it has only 2 leaves and 1 flower, which grows in the axil of the leaves. The large, twin, umbrella-like leaves of mayapple are showy and conspicuous. They remain closed as the stem lengthens, unfolding 6–8 inches across when the plant has reached its 1 to 1 1/2 ft. height. The solitary, nodding, white to rose-colored flower grows in the axil of the leaves and has 6–9 waxy white petals, with many stamens. The nodding fruit is a large, fleshy, lemon-shaped berry."Infertile plants have one leaf at the tip of a stalk, with 6-9 lobes. Fertile plants have two leaves with fewer lobes, branching from the stalk on long petioles as you see above. We found an unusual variant, a single-leafed fertile specimen with the flower in bloom below.
|Mayapple rust, top surface - Mark Bower|
Most rust fungi alternate host plants between years. Cedar apple rust is typical, first causing the brown nodules on cedars, bursting into orange slimy fingers to disperse its spores to apple trees the next year. Mayapple rust is the exception, sticking with a single plant host.
|Mayapple rust - Mark Bower|