Mayapple – Podophyllum peltatum
hogapple, Indian apple, mayflower, umbrella plant, wild lemon (flavor of the fruit), wild mandrake, American mandrake, devil’s apple
Mayapples are unique looking plants that I always consider fun to come across when out hiking. Typically you will not find just one. They usually are found in groupings. All plant somehow attached, even identical, as they can all be grown from a rhizome.
In spring the main stems of mayapple grow upright. These stems can grow 10” – 24” tall. Reproductive plants have 2 or occasionally 3 umbrella like leaves 8” – 12” in diameter with 5 – 9 deeply cut lobes Plants that will not reproduce, sterile, have one umbrella-like leaf. The single flower comes out in spring and is white 1” – 3” diameter with six, sometimes up to nine, petals and is produced at the axil of the two main leaves. The flower is quite showy The flower matures into a yellow-greenish fruit 1” – 2” long. Typically, when you find mayapple you will find a small “colony” since they can grow via rhizomes.
Mayapples can be found in moist meadows and open / damp woodlands
Mayapple territory is from Quebec and Ontario in the north, south through New England down into Florida. They are as far west as Texas and Minnesota.
The ripe fruit is the only edible on the plant. The fruit can be eaten raw or even made into jam. The leaves, stem, roots/rhizome and unripe fruit are poisonous – do not eat.
Notes of Interest:
They are a members of the barberry family.
Native Americans ate the berries and used the roots to make a tea.