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Podophyllum peltatum


wild mandrake

Plant family

Barberry (Berberidaceae)

Plant group

Wildflowers and Herbs

Mayapple is a perennial herbaceous understory plant native to eastern North America.
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Identification hints

Mayapple has two distinct umbrella-shaped leaves with a flower hanging below. The plant is often found in clonal patches in partially shady areas. Although the name suggests the apple-like fruit emerges in May that is not the case. Instead, the name makes reference to the fact that the flower which blooms in May looks similar to an apple flower!

Did you know?

The ripe fruits of the mayapple are edible in small amounts, but beware of the highly poisonous roots and leaves! The mayapple is considered a spring ephemeral, meaning that it often emerges very early in the spring, before the canopy of the trees around it has emerged. The fruits and rhizomes of this plant have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Like many other plant species, mayapples rely on mycorrhizal fungi in the soil for nutrients.
Alabama , Arkansas , Connecticut , Delaware , Florida , Georgia , Iowa , Illinois , Indiana , Kansas , Kentucky , Louisiana , Massachusetts , Maryland , Maine , Michigan , Minnesota , Missouri , Mississippi , North Carolina , Nebraska , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New York , Ohio , Oklahoma , Pennsylvania , Rhode Island , South Carolina , Tennessee , Texas , Virginia , Vermont , Wisconsin , West Virginia
Mayapples typically thrive in moist woodlands in partial shade although can tolerate drought in it's eastern forest range. Mayapple does not grow in pine forests but instead prefers living under deciduous hardwoods.
The leaves of mayapple are peltate, meaning the long stem is attached in the center of the leaf, giving it an ‘umbrella’ appearance. Plants have just one leaf if they are not in the flowering stage; reproductive plants have two leaves. Leaves themselves have 5 to 9 deeply divided lobes. Each leaf can be up to 8 inches long. They are a light to deep green, hairless, and appear rubbery.
Each reproductive mayapple plant bears a single white flower, up to 2 inches in diameter, which droops downward from the junction of the two leaves. Petals are rounded at the top, and overlap each other. The reproductive parts of the flower are yellow.
Mayapples form a fleshy green berry that turns yellow to pinkish when it is ripe. Fruits are up to 2 inches long.
Bloom Time
Mayapple blooms between March and May depending on location.

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