Friday, April 24, 2009

100 Species Challenge #46 May Apple

Specimen #46 May Apple

Podophyllum peltatum L

AKA Mandrake

Photos by me on Wed,. April 22 Greenwood Park 2009

All parts except the fruit are TOXIC!

"I" of GAIN came running down the hill and over the creek to get me to see this plant! Was it a mushroom? What is it? There were many of them! etc. I ran up the steep hill, sweating with worry that I wouldn't know the plant she found, until I saw the plants in question. Yay! an easy one.

The may apple is pretty easy to spot and ID because there is no other flower like it. We've spotted large patches of this wildflower in late April and early May. The leaf color is distinctive and there are one or two leaves.

The one leaf plant is like an umbrella. The two leaved plant (they are opposite each other) has a flower. The flower (not pictured here) is white and droops under the leaves.

Since we're 90% done with school, I may try to get follow up photos of the flower and fruit.

May apple plants are very poisonous (except the fruit) and have historically been used for everything under the sun. says:

The fruits may be eaten raw, cooked, dried, made into jelly, or the juice mixed with lemonade and sugar as a drink. Native Americans used the rhizomes as a purgative and the juice from the rhizomes as an ear drop to treat deafness. They would boil the plant and sprinkle it on potato plants to kill potato bugs.

Interesting Facts from

May Apple was
once called the witches umbrella and thought to be employed by them as a poison, which may not be untrue! The English version of this plant has much lore told of it, being called Manroot (mandrake) believed to be alive and its screams when pulled from the ground would render a man permanently insane.

All parts except the fruit are TOXIC!

1 comment:

~Sara said...

OMG! OMG! Will and I and the boys saw these over at the park the other day when we were picking up trash. I snapped a bunch of pictures to show you and see if you knew what it was! This is so hilarious!