Wildwood Survival website

SURVIVAL
Shelter
Water
Fire
Food
Clothing
Fishing
Hunting
Traps
Snares
Tools
Stone
Flintknapping
Tracker Knife
Cordage
Containers
Furniture
Lights
Hides
Pitch & Glue
Winter
Health
Lyme Disease
Vision
Native People
Emergency Prep
Navigation
Teaching
Young People
Practicing
Music
Humour
More
Wilderness Mind
Site Disclaimer
Bookstore
Booklist
Forums
Contributors
Sitemap
Guestbook
About this site
Use of material
Email me
Privacy Policy
HomeSurvivalFoodEdible Plants

Mayapple

(Podophyllum peltatum)

 
Other common names: Mandrake, May Apple, May-apple

Family: Barberry family -- Berberidaceae

Distinctive features: Large deeply cut leaves. Single large white flower under the leaves. Single yellow fruit. One of the first plants to come up in the spring.

Similar species:

Height: Up to about 15" tall.

Flowers: A single flower per plant, white, often hidden under the large leaves. Spring. Most plants do not flower in any given year.

Leaves: Large, umbrella-like. Flowering plants have two large leaves, non-flowering ones have one.

Stem: Short.

Habitat: Forests. Sometimes these plants carpet the forest floor. Sometimes they grow in open fields as well.

Longevity:  Perennial.

Comments: The ripe fruits are edible. CAUTION: Do not eat the fruit until it is ripe. Ripe fruits are yellow and soft. Unripe fruits are greenish and not soft. They are slightly poisonous when unripe: green fruits are strongly cathartic. Mayapples are among the first plants to come up in the spring.

The information on this page has been taken from my Ontario Wildflowers website.

A Mayapple plant.

This one has two leaves, as it is flowering.

 

In any given season, most Mayapple plants do not flower. These non-flowering individuals produce only one leaf.

 

The plants may sometimes carpet the forest floor.

 

The underside of a leaf.

 

Closeup of a flower. Each plant produces just one flower, which eventually turns into one fruit.

 

It's tricky to photograph the flower, as it is hidden under the leaves and usually points downward.

 

Mayapple plants that flower and produce fruit have two leaves.

 

Unopened flower bud.

 

A fruit just starting to grow. They take quite a while to ripen.

 

A maturing fruit.

The mature fruits are edible and quite tasty. However, they are poisonous when green. Do not try to eat them until they are yellow and soft. However, squirrels love the fruits, and you may have a hard time finding a ripe one because of them!

This photo was taken in late June.

 

A Mayapple plant poking up in the spring (late April).

 

Plant's leaves unfurling.