May Apples (Podophyllum peltatum)

a mayapple flower will become one apple
The large white flower of Mayapple

Mayapples are beautiful, umbrella-like plants that grow in moist woods. Some of the plants have just one large, deeply divided leaf, while others have two leaves. A relatively large white flower appears under the 2-leafed plants sometime in May; a green berry or “apple” develops soon thereafter.  By mid-June, the plant begins to fade to yellow.

All parts of this plant are poisonous except for the fruit. While people say the apple is edible, it is actually very bitter (in fact, another name for it is wild lemon). If you want to consume it, you’ll need a lot of sugar and some cooking time!

Mayapples have other common names, including Mandarin, Indian apple, umbrella plant, and maypop. They colonize quickly by rhizomes and form dense patches on the forest floor, starting in late March and April.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger image of each photo. You will see the lovely may apple plant in many different stages of growth. Another bit of folklore: you know when it is morel season when the mayapple umbrellas begin to flatten out 🙂 !

A mass of mayapples in late April


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Barry says:

    Hello. Just to add to your description, although some folks may call the furit of this plant a “may pop”, may pop is what the fruit of the pasion flower is called. Still, I have yet to spot either of these plants in the wild sinse I started my interest in wild plants. Add chickory to that list as well. But I’ll always be looking. It’ll happen one day.
    As I’ve said before, I’m not sure if you realize it, but this site is an awesome resourse for people like me, who look for wild plants and study them. It’s very interesting. You’ve done one heck of a job. Thank you.

    1. Gloria says:

      Thank you, Barry! I’m so glad the site is useful! I’ve enjoyed taking the pictures and learning lots of new flowers along the way!

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