Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Summary of Preliminary Study of Mayapple Seeds

     Mayapple seeds are relatively rare. To do a full blown seed study has not been feasible. I hope that I can purchase seeds that have not been dried as I need them for the portion of my study looking at where in the forest is best for mayapple seed germination.  I have talked to the supplier of the seeds and they assured me that they will reevaluate their mayapple seed storage conditions. 
     At any rate, this poster summarizes my findings. These findings have informed my research decisions and will allow me to better interpret my data.
Full size poster

Another Hypothesis

     This spring I am collecting data to help determine what makes a good microhabitat for mayapple. I have observed it growing in a wide variety of locations. I have observed it making reproductive shoots in a wide variety of locations. I do not find mayapple growing in places like this:
Dry south facing slope (no mayapple).
 But, after taking the above photo, I turned around, and a little lower on this slope there is a depression where it is slightly wetter and I saw this:
Mayapple patch in moist depression on an otherwise dry south-facing slope.
There are a couple of reproductive shoots in this patch also.

     It appears that mayapple grows best in locations that are moist.  I have not seen mayapple growing in the saturated soil of stream bottoms however. I do find shoots and sparse colonies in dry locations, but I believe that it spreads into these locations by rhizome growth and not by seeds. 

     I hypothesize that if the seeds can stay moist in the fall and winter, that mayapple seeds will grow just about anywhere from lawns to soil-filled depressions in boulders. There may be other limiting factors in the environment besides moisture, but visually, I cant tell what they are. My hope is that the measurements I am taking will capture the difference between good mayapple habitat and not-so-good mayapple habitat.

     I often find small mayapple patches at the base of trees. I bet that they got there in raccoon poop.

An isolated mayapple patch at the base of a tree.