Not Mayapple But Instead Wild Geranium - Summer 2021

Back in the shady parts of our yard, along the fence, we have these plants that come up in various spots.  My assumption is that they're weeds of some sort and for the past few years, I've been pulling them.  But, this year, I learned about Mayapples from Erin the Impatient Gardener.   Looking at what she shows off as Mayapples, I wondered if this mult-lobe'd plant was, potentially Mayapple.  

The Missouri Botanic Garden has a listing up about Mayapple - or Podophyllum peltatum - where they talk about it being used in naturalized gardens and talks about how it disappears during the Summer:

...native Missouri wildflower that occurs in both moist and dry woodland areas throughout the State. From a single stem, each plant grows 12-18" tall and features one or two, deeply-divided, palmately-lobed, umbrella-like, pale green leaves (to 12" diameter).

Excellent for naturalizing in woodland settings, wild or native plant gardens. Because plants naturalize freely but go dormant in summer (foliage disappears), mayapple is not considered a good border plant.

 The plants that I identified on my property have a look of 'soft of' an umbrella, don't they?

I wasn't sure what I had, but wanted to figure it out before I decided on a plan to either cultivate or remove these.  I've posted in the past about how I've emailed both the U of Illinois Extension Office Master Gardener and the Plant Clinic at the Morton Arboretum about various plants and trees to try to learn what is going on.  Recently, I sent this photo to the Plant Clinic and asked if it was Mayapple.  You can see their response below - and confirmed it is NOT Mayapple but they pointed me to it potentially being a wild geranium.  

First...before I go any further:  how great is the Plant Clinic?  If you have a question, drop them a line at  We're proud members of the Arboretum and this is just one of the great services they offer.  

As for the link they sent me about wild geranium, have a look hereThis is named Geranium maculatum - which would be my first Geranium perennial in the yard.  Scroll down.  That third photo from the top that features a top/down or head-on foliage photo sure looks like what I'm seeing in my yard, doesn't it? They describe the foliage as "palmately lobed leaves". Palmately is a new word to me, but having looked up the definition, I'll start to use it now: resembling a hand with the fingers spread and having lobes radiating from a common point.

The conclusion is that this is certainly NOT Mayapple, but that didn't stop me from looking around to try to FIND Mayapple.  And, guess what?  The story comes full circle.  As, recently, we were walking through the Spruce Plot at the VERY.SAME Morton Arboretum when I stopped and knew immediately that I was looking at Mayapple.   Off the trail just a few feet was a little opening in the woodland floor where these umbrella-looking plants were sprouting up.  Here, below, is the view from the trail.

A closer look shows the leaves are a bit different than the ones I have on my property:

And finally, the "apple" in the Mayapple showing below the palmately canopy of the plant you can see in the photo below as a little green sphere.

While it turns out, I don't *have* Mayapple, this whole learning journey has made me both appreciate the existence of Mayapples in the wild and now know that I'll be keeping an eye on the wild geranium and won't be pulling it this Summer.    Maybe we'll get flowers 


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