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Nature In The Natural State: The Symbiotic Relationship Of Mayapples And Boxturtles

Nature contains millions of specialized relationships between different species. One such relationship exists between two Arkansas natives - the eastern box turtle, and the mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum.

Mayapples grow 12 to 18 inches high and have large multi-lobed leaves. Look under the leaves in late April and you may see a beautiful flower!

Native bees pollinate the flowers, which produce the so-called “apples.” The apples are ripe in July, and are a favorite food of the Eastern box turtle. Seeds that have passed through the gut of a box turtle are much more likely to germinate.

The mayapple’s apple feeds the box turtle, and the box turtle in turn helps the mayapple to reproduce.