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Mystical and Dangerous Mayapples

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poisonous mayapple
Poisonous Mayapples

As a child I was taught to hunt morel mushrooms around patches of mayapples.  Typically, the two grew together in the spring.  It was a welcome site to see abundant mayapples popping up again this spring.  Since last year was a slim one for our morel hunting, I’m hopeful that more sun and rain will bring the wild food this year.

poisonous mayapple
Poisonous Mayapple
poisonous mayapple
Poisonous Mayapples

It’s interesting to note that the pretty umbrella-shaped mayapple plants that later produce flowers and fruit are considered poisonous, even deadly, according to folklore and “unsafe” according to the Food and Drug Administration.  At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are looking at patenting a substance from the mayapple for use in cancer treatment.  Here’s one academic paper about the plant.

By the way, I’m not endorsing morel hunting either, because you need to know exactly what you’re looking for and not get them confused with poisonous wild mushrooms.  If we do find some morels, we’ll be battering and frying them up, old-style.

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