Tuesday, May 1, 2012

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment