MAY-APPLE
File Size: 57 KB
 
Podophyllum peltatum  L.
Cherokee County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 8-20 inches
Family: Berberidaceae - Barberry Family
Flowering Period:   April, May
Also Called: Mandrake.
Stems: Erect, stout, glabrous.
Leaves: Large, simple, more or less round, up to 14 inches in diameter, deeply 3- to 9-lobed, attached to stalk at center; single leaf terminal on long stalk or stem terminating in 2 long-stalked leaves.
Inflorescences: Single flower terminating stem in fork of 2 leaf stalks; single-leaved plants often without flowers.
Flowers: Nodding, 2 inches wide, on short stalk; sepals 6, petal-like, falling early; petals 6 or 9, egg-shaped, white; stamens twice as many as petals; pistil egg-shaped; stigma broad, sessile.
Fruits: Berry, fleshy, 1.75 to 2 inches in diameter, yellowish-green to occasionally purplish; seeds numerous.
Habitat: Low, moist or dry, open woods and thickets.
Distribution: East 1/4 of Kansas.
Toxicity: The rhizomes and leaves are poisonous but the ripe fruits are edible.
Forage Value: May-apple is bitter and generally avoided by livestock.
Uses: 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.
Comments: Forms colonies from creeping rhizomes. Some people find the flowers fragrant while others find them unpleasant.

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