Mayapple

Botanical Name: Podophyllum peltatum

Other Common Names: Mayapple, Indian Apple, Wild Mandrake

Brief Description and Notes: The large gnome-size umbrella-like leaves of this plant form a charming native groundcover. Mayapple usually forms dense mats in the woods via their spreading rhizomes. In May, you may have notice some of the plants develop a single flower hiding under the leaves–hence, the common name “Mayapple,” but the flower doesn’t give way to fruit until late summer. This fruit is technically edible, although a bit of a dangerous food since 1. the fruit must be completely ripe to be edible and 2. the seeds are poisonous. 

Where To Look For It: Moist woodlands, moist roadbanks; does well in deep shade

Ornamental Value: Great for the shady native garden, groundcover spreads easily, flowers are attractive but rather hidden under the foliage

Ecological Value & Roles: Box turtles and raccoons are main distributors of the seed; several other small mammals eat the fruit

Edibility and Other Human Use: Fruit edible but with extreme caution. 

 

Sources:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Missouri Botanical Garden

In Defense of Plants: Mayapple