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Scientific name: Podophyllum

This native perennial is found growing in woodland colonies.

Mayapple earns its common name from the flowers which bloom in the month of May. Later in the summer small green fruits will ripen.

All parts of this plant are highly toxic, (except for the ripened fruit). Nonetheless, this is an important medicinal plant. One of its derivatives, etoposide, has shown promise in treating cancers and has earned a place on the list of essential medications by the World Health Organization.


The leaves are shaped like a palm, with deeply cut lobes.


Usually small and white, they appear in the month of May. Flowers may be other such as pink, rose or purple.

See the photo below which shows the distinctive bloom beneath the large leaf.

Blooming Season



A small green fruit will ripen over the course of the summer.


Mayapples like shade and moist soil.

Ecosystem Connections

The most interesting aspect of mayapple ecology is that the mayapple relies on box turtles as their main seed dispersers. Box turtles relish the fruit and seeds passing through the gut of the turtle are much more likely to germinate.

This plant is a host plant for the golden borer moth and the mayapple borer.

Human Connections

This is an nice early bloomer for your garden and since it spreads by way of a thick mat of rhizomes, weeds will be crowded out.

Years ago, the yellow fruit was harvested in August and September and made into jams and marmalade. The flavor is said to resemble lemon. Today, it is inadvisable for the inexperienced to dabble with this mostly poisonous plant.

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