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Maypops

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

At the Irmo Middle School, maypops, Passiflora incarnata, found their way to the pollinator garden without being planted. Probably they started when a songbird, many of which love maypop seeds, flipped its tail and deposited that seed when it landed in a shrub growing there. Many birds eat the ripe seeds when the fruits mature and open, once you have one maypop, you’ll have many as they have persistent rhizomes that give rise to new plants each year. Curiously, maypop is the larval food source for the Viceroy butterfly which closely resembles the monarch butterfly, both easy to spot with their brilliant orange color. What a fortuitous event as students learn about mimicry, one animal’s resembling another to avoid being eaten. Monarchs are poisonous due to compounds in milkweed compounds, birds avoid them and by association avoid Viceroys.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.