Ontario Wildflowers website

Podophyllum peltatum

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) Other common names: Mandrake, 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.

Flowers: Spring;  White;  6 parts (petals);  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.

Height: 30-45 cm (11-17 in)

Stem: Short.

Fruit/Seeds: A single yellow fruit, naging down under the leaves.

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

Grows in Sun/Shade: Shade

Edible: 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.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 354    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 4    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 200   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Notes: Mayapples are among the first plants to come up in the spring.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: peltatum: shield-shaped

Photographs: 223 photographs available, of which 13 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) flower

Mayapple flower.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) plant

A Mayapple plant.

This one has two leaves, as it is flowering.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) plant

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

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) plants

The plants may sometimes carpet the forest floor.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) leaf

The underside of a leaf.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) flower

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

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) flower

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

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) flower

Mayapple plants that flower and produce fruit have two leaves.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) fruit

Unopened flower bud.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) fruit

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

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) fruit

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.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) plant

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

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) leaves

Plant's leaves unfurling.

Range map for Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)