A Mayflower in April?

The Massachusett were a native American tribe that inhabited the present day Boston area and were one of a dozen tribes that inhabited Massachusetts at the time of the Pilgrim landing. They were decimated by the smallpox bacteria that came across the ocean with the Pilgrims although several hundred still live in the state today. They made medicinal use of the Mayflower (Epigaea repens) for pregnancy issues, upset stomaches, and general pain relief. The Mayflower is known by me and many in the South as the Trailing Arbutis and it doesn’t bloom in May in the Southern Appalachians – try late March and early April instead.

Five waxy petals usually white with a touch of pink and even occasionally lavender.

It was one of the first flowering plants to greet the Pilgrims after a long winter and when they tried to transplant it from the wild to their cabin gardens, it never worked as the Mayflower has a symbiotic connection to native microbes and nematodes that don’t exist in cultivation. Such is the demise of many a wildflower dug from its wild home. I have tried with Fire Pink and blooms may came back a second year but seldom a third.

The Trailing Arbutis or Mayflower is becoming very rare and in Massachusetts there is a $50 fine for disturbing the plant.
I wonder who gave the name to the Mayflower ship that brought the Pilgrims in 1620? Did you know their destination was really Virginia not Massachusetts? No GPS then!
The somewhat rare pinkish-lavender variation in the Mayflower is striking.

From the Massachusetts state legislature …”Section 7. The mayflower (epigaea repens) shall be the flower or floral emblem of the commonwealth. Any person who pulls up or digs up the plant of the mayflower or any part thereof, or injures such plant or any part thereof except in so far as is reasonably necessary in procuring the flower therefrom, within the limits of any state highway or any other public way or place, or upon the land of another person without written authority from him, shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars; but if a person does any of the aforesaid acts while in disguise or secretly in the nighttime he shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. The provisions of this section shall be enforced by all officers in the division of law enforcement in the department of fisheries, wildlife and environmental law enforcement.” So if you choose to dig a Mayflower, do it in the daytime! Actually, please don’t do it at all.

Little known companions of Mayflowers would be the Toothwort and the Star Chickweed which has a peppery look.

The toothwort – always white and always shy.
The Star Chickweed is a cousin to the common spring weed in our gardens and lawns.

So what have we learned? Massachusetts is named from a native American tribe. The Mayflower blooms in April in Georgia., and do not dig a Mayflower in Massachusetts or you will be hit with a fine of $50! It will be a $100 fine if you wear a ski mask or do it at night.

Now we are off to our next alphabetical state and its dwarf wildflower which is related to the giant blue iris of Louisiana. See you there!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close