Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)

Plant Info
Also known as: Wild Mandrake, Ground Lemon
Genus:Podophyllum
Family:Berberidaceae (Barberry)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade; average to moist soil; rich woods, ravines, wooded bluffs, creek and river banks
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flowers] A single nodding flower 1 to 2+ inches (to 6 cm) diameter on a stalk arising from where the stem forks at the top of the plant. Flowers have 6 to 9 rounded white petals and twice as many yellow stamens surrounding a pale greenish yellow columnar ovary in the center.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are umbrella-like, more or less round in outline, up to 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter, palmately lobed in 5 to 9 parts; lobes may be further divided or deeply notched at the tip and lobe edges may be toothed to varying degrees. Flowering plants have a pair of leaves forking at the top of the stem, each leaf on a long stalk. Sterile plants have a single leaf. Leaves, stalks and stems are hairless. Stems are erect and sheathed at the base. Colonies are formed from elongating rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is an oval berry 1½ to 2 inches (3.5 to 5.5 cm) long that ripens to yellow, containing several seeds.

Notes:

The natural range of Mayapple is limited to the southeastern part of the state, south of Dakota County, but this species has gained some popularity in the garden trade and can be found in areas farther north. A word of warning to gardeners: it may not be suitable for a small urban/suburban landscape due to its rhizomatous nature, unless you're diligent about thinning it out every year. In my own garden it is competing for world domination with several other rhizomatous species and appears to be winning.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Winona County and in her garden. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at the U of M Arboretum and in private gardens.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Petyer
on: 2010-04-21 21:03:45

This is a good shade alternative to hosta - also european garden slugs (biological control of hosta) don't eat it - also wild ginger, dutchmen breeches & wild lily-of-valley & a fern or two - fill in an area as well as anything.

Posted by: Ruth - Nerstrand Big Woods State Park & Lake Louise State Park
on: 2010-05-16 21:17:26

I saw this plant blooming in May at both Big Woods and Lake Louise state parks. The leaves are so big that the flowers are a pleasant surprise underneath.

Posted by: Lynnette - SE Dakota County, Ravenna Township
on: 2011-08-15 15:59:13

We have a good patch growing on our property.

Posted by: shane - washington county
on: 2012-02-22 14:08:08

my cat died from eating a part of the leaf from this plant :(

Posted by: Todd - Rushford Village, Fillmore County
on: 2012-04-19 11:29:52

We have a wild patch growing in the woods on our property. Tens years and still going.

Posted by: Cory - St. Paul
on: 2013-04-28 22:48:12

Just popping up from the soil in our yard.

Posted by: Brett - Nerstrand State Park
on: 2014-05-11 18:19:40

Was at Nerstrand Big Woods SP this weekend. Lot of big colonies here but are not flowering yet. Plants are tall though.

Posted by: Lisa - Whitewater State Park
on: 2015-05-25 08:55:14

Camping this weekend, saw just a half dozen blooms among a colony of hundreds of umbrella leaves on the way to our walk-in site. What a humble, beautiful bloom.

Posted by: Kirk - Myre-Big Island State Park
on: 2015-05-26 22:39:10

Saw a colony alongside the Oak Hill Trail. I did not know what they were at the time; the large leaves caught my eye, but the white bloom underneath the leaves is what intrigued me.

Posted by: Curt E - Northwestern Kandiyohi County in tnc Moe Woods
on: 2017-05-25 12:20:57

We have a large colony of May Apple growing with Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bloodroot and Yellow Lady Slippers, under a large Oak tree. I believe my wife moved them here from out in the woods, several years ago, as I have seen them in the area we call Moe woods.

Posted by: cheryl b - Elm Creek Park Reserve
on: 2018-04-09 03:30:54

Well, despite what the above says, I have found several large colonies in Elm Creek Park Reserve, north of Dakota County. Perhaps escaped from a garden? However, it appears to be in native habitat.

Posted by: Rachael Theis - Dakota County, Eagan
on: 2019-04-29 17:52:16

We have these coming up in our yard right now.

Posted by: Sarah Nelson - Eden Prairie
on: 2020-05-05 10:38:53

I discovered a May Apple growing on the east side of our house (up against the brick) behind a dogwood shrub. Have not seen one of these in decades. Grew up in Iowa City and we had a big patch in our 'woods'.

Posted by: Jacquelynn Goessling - Dorer State Forest, Reno, MN
on: 2021-04-19 15:41:29

Lots of 'em!

Posted by: bruce honnigford - Minnetonka
on: 2023-08-19 11:46:57

We purchased a plant from the UofM extension sale years ago and it has been prpagating in our flower garden. The year we harvested several fruits. I followed directitions for eating them - only the ripened fruit - seeds removed. it tastes like lemon and peach.

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