|Monday Melange: Mayapple or American Mandrake|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 19 August 2013|
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is a native perennial woodland plant whose name is somewhat misleading. The edible fruits (pictured below) are not really apples at all, although they do ripen to a golden yellow between May and August. Hardy between USDA zones 3 and 8, mayapple is native to the oak-hickory forests of eastern North America from Quebec to northern Florida and across to Texas and Nebraska.
Known as American mandrake, devil's apple, hog apple, Indian apple, umbrella plant, and wild lemon, mayapples are yet another example of a plant that yields a native American fruit. Mayapple forms large colonies making it an excellent choice for use as a groundcover in naturalized woodland gardens or in gardens showcasing native plants. Like many spring flowering plants, the foliage does die back in summer so itís not a plant for the perennial border.
Mayapples grow to a height of 12 to 15 inches and prefer shade to part shade and moist, rich humus soils. Mayapples bloom between March and May. The primitive looking, rather large white flowers remind me of magnolia flowers and can be found lurking under the large and unusually large umbrella-like leaves. The flowers are borne in the leaf axils and only plants with two leaves will flower.
Although the fruit is edible, the roots and leaves are highly poisonous. Mayapple is listed as endangered in Florida and is a member of the Barberry plant family (Berberidaceae).
Photo sources: www.indigenousremedies.com and http://flickr.com/photos/dlennis/472262394