Mayapple fruit

On a recent walk in Shakerag Hollow I ran across this mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) plant lying prostrate on the ground, its fruit resting on the leaf litter surface. This is box turtle food. Turtles love the fruits and serve as seed dispersers for the plant. The fruit is the size of a small lemon.

Mayapple contains chemicals that are used in anti-cancer drugs, so our health depends, in small part, on the ecological services provided by box turtles. One more reason to drive carefully? I moved this fellow (red eyes, domed plastron = a male) out of the way last week…

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