Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Weeds are growing now where tree roots used to be and on some rainy days, the mud from the bare ground will run like the Yadkin River. But come fall–grass seeds will be scattered in hopes of growing underneath blankets of the coming winter snows.
Thirty years ago–give or take a few years, my Daddy and Mama planted pine seedlings in an open field beside our house and during those years me and my siblings and Daddy and Mama watched those trees every year until one day they towered over our house–providing shade and bedding for many families of deer and on any given day some of my Mama’s sisters or friends would be raking pine needles for their flower gardens–stuffing as many as they could in black garbage bags. The pines are gone now–we made the decision to cut them down after one fell on Mama’s house a few years ago during the fury of a winter ice storm.
Amongst the weeds in the field now are a few flowers popping up and on one of my evening walks I stopped at my Mama’s to take a closer look at these random flowers, most likely hidden under the pines for thirty-plus years or more.
I went in Mama’s house and asked, “Come out here and tell me what this flower is growing in the field.” My Mama knows her flowers.
And we walked out onto the parched ground and Mama took one look at it and said, “Oh, that’s a lollipop. We used to eat them when we were little. They have pods on them. When they get yellow, you can eat them. See, here’s one.”
And me….“A what? A lollipop flower? You can eat them? Are they wild?”
“Yes, they are wild,” she said.
So I took a few photos and went home and “Goo-Gooed” as my four-year old grandson says when he’s kidding about Google. ‘Goo-Goo this toy for me. How much does it cost?’ he’ll say with a giggle that will melt this Granna’s heart.
Google–search for lollipop flower. And there were dozens of sites and images within a few seconds about how to make actual lollipops–suckers with edible flowers. But no lollipops like in Mama’s field.
So I went back to visit the flowers for a second time a few nights later, took more photos and decided to Google, purple flower with prongs with white fringe and there it was–the MAYPOP! Anyway, this Maypop, “the lollipop” is an interesting flower.
I learned from all the many sites I visited while searching on Google was this:
Maypops are also called the Purple Passion Flower (2)
It is considered a wildflower growing from “southeast Pennsylvania to Florida, west to Texas and Oklahoma, and north to Missouri, Illinois, and West Virginia.” (2)
The vines can grow up to 25 feet (2)
The Maypop makes a really loud noise when crushed (1)
Cherokees call the Maypops, “Old-Field Apricots” (1)
Indians also called the flower, Ocoee–”Indian name given to the flower, a name that has also been applied to the Ocoee River and valley. The Indians prized the ocoee as the most abundant and beautiful of all their flowers.” (5)
Spanish Explorers called it the Purple Passion Flower because the details of the flower reminded them “of the Passion (Crucifixion) of Christ.” (1)
Another resource, “Roman Catholic priests of the lat 1500's named it for the Passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. They believed that several parts of the plant, including the petals, rays, and sepals, symbolized features of the Passion. The flower's five petals and five petallike sepals represented the 10 apostles who remained faithful to Jesus throughout the Passion. The circle of hairlike rays above the petals suggested the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the day of His death.” (3)
“The 10 petal-like parts represents the disciples of Jesus, excluding Peter and Judas; the 5 stamens the wounds Jesus received; the knob-like stigmas the nails; the fringe the crown of thorns.” (2)
The Maypop is edible. According to MiracleGrow.com, “The fruit of the passionflower is often the size of a hen's egg. The core is packed with seeds, but the edible flesh is delicious and has to be one of the most intensely and enticingly scented of all fruits. The pulp is very sweet and often used for beverages and jams.” (4)
The Maypop is one of Tennessee’s state wildflowers. (5)
And the list goes on and on….on ‘Goo-Goo’.
However there are things I learned about the Maypop that couldn’t be found on Google, through another person’s research and knowledge published on the World Wide Web.
And that was the story told from a snowy white haired 81-year old Mama who shared her wisdom of age–her memories of a childhood–how her and her siblings used to eat the sweetness of the "lollipop' once it turned yellow in their farm’s open fields and how it was never called a Maypop--it was then and still is “the lollipop”.