Mayapple

Podophyllum peltatum

''Podophyllum peltatum'', commonly called Mayapple, or May Apple, wild mandrake, American mandrake or "devil's apple", is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Berberidaceae, native to deciduous forests in of eastern North America. Like many other spring ephemerals, it emerges from below ground before the canopy of the forest opens, and then slowly withers later in the summer; the foliage is, however, somewhat more long-lived than other spring emphemerals such as ''Trillium''.

The stems grow to 30–40 cm tall, with 2 or occasionally 3 palmately lobed leaves up to 20–30 cm diameter with 5-9 deeply cut lobes on reproductive individuals, or one peltate leaf on sterile individuals. The single secund white flower 3–5 cm diameter, with six petals, is produced at the axil of the two leaves ; the flower matures into a yellow-greenish fruit 2–5 cm long. The plant is widespread and appears in clonal colonies in open mesic woodlands. Individual shoots are often connected by systems of thick rhizomes. As with many kinds of wild plants, the flower provides sexual reproduction while the rhizome provides asexual reproduction. The former provides long distance dispersal, while the latter allows the formation of dense circular clones. There are costs to producing flowers, since the production of a flower and fruit reduces the probability that the plant will survive, or flower, in following years.

Many species of plants have mycorrhizae to assist with nutrient uptake in infertile conditions. Mayapple plants are considered obligately dependent upon such mycorrhizae, although it may also be facultatively dependent upon rhizome age and soil nutrient levels. Plants are commonly found infected by the rust ''Puccinia podophylli'', appearing as honeycomb-patterned orange colonies under the leaves, and yellowish lesions on the upper surface.

Though the common name is mayapple, it is the flower that appears in early May, not the "apple". The fruit or "apple" is produced early summer and ripens later in summer.
Mayapple bloom (Podophyllum peltatum) Growing in a sunny hillside in a dense mixed forest clearing. This was the only Mayapple bloom I found last year! From what I hear, it was a bad year for finding them! Geotagged,Mayapple,Podophyllum peltatum,Spring,United States

Defense

The ripened fruit is edible in little amounts, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. The rhizome, foliage and roots are also poisonous. Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin, which is used as a cytostatic and typically in the treatment of viral and genital warts.

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Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionAngiosperms
ClassEudicots
OrderRanunculales
FamilyBerberidaceae
GenusPodophyllum
SpeciesP. peltatum