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Podophyllum peltatum L.
Mayapple, Indian apple, Wild mandrake, Pomme de mai, Podophylle pelt
USDA Symbol: pope
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Mayapple is unique in that It has only 2 leaves and 1 flower, which grows in the axil of the leaves. The large, twin, umbrella-like leaves of mayapple are showy and conspicuous. They remain closed as the stem lengthens, unfolding 6–8 inches across when the plant has reached its 1-1 1/2 ft. height. The solitary, nodding, white to rose-colored flower grows in the axil of the leaves and has 6–9 waxy white petals, with many stamens. The nodding fruit is a large, fleshy, lemon-shaped berry.
Mayapple colonizes by rhizomes, forming dense mats in damp, open woods. The common name refers to the May blooming of its apple-blossom-like flower. Although the leaves, roots, and seeds are poisonous if ingested in large quantities, the roots were used as a cathartic by Native Americans. The edible, ripe, golden-yellow fruits can be used in jellies. The alternate popular name Mandrake rightly belongs to an unrelated Old World plant with a similar root.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Venation: Palmate Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous Breeding System:
Flowers Bisexual Size Notes:
Height: 12-18 inches Leaf:
Flowers 2 inches
Yellow, sometimes tinged with pink, rose, or purple 2 inches long Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Flowers usually white, but some populations display pinkish, rosy, or purplish flowers. Pink/rose/purple-flowered plants are sometimes referred to as a separate form of this species: Deamii.
, WV Canada: NS
, QC Native Distribution:
Que. & s. Ont. to FL,
w. to MN,
& e. TX Native Habitat:
forest, shaded fields, shaded moist road banks, shaded riverbanks.
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist Soil pH:
Acidic (pH<6.8) Soil Description:
Moist, humus-rich soils. Acid-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Conditions Comments:
Drought-tolerant within its eastern forest range, but should not be tried anywhere else. Grows under deciduous
hardwoods, not under pines. Do not mix with other plants, as it does not like competition.
Sometimes cultivated in woodland gardens. Use Food:
Ripe (yellow and soft) fruit
is edible raw, but in limited quantity. Collect in August or September The fruit
has a lemon-like flavor and can be used to make jams, jellies and marmalade. Use Medicinal: Native
Americans used Podophyllum
for a wide variety of medicinal purposes and as an insecticide (D. E. Moerman 1986). Warning:
POISONOUS PARTS: Unripe fruit,
leaves, roots. Highly Toxic, May be Fatal if Eaten! Symptoms include salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, excitement, headache, fever, coma. Toxic Principle: Podophyllin. Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Seeds should be planted immediately or they will need to be treated. Plant thickly. Seedlings take several years to mature. The easiest way to propagate is by root division while the plant is dormant. Divide the rhizomes in fall with at least one bud.
Seed Treatment: Cold-moist stratification for three months.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Do not mow, as mowing will kill them.
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: DEW