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Mayapple Fruit

Introduction of Mayapple Fruit

            Scientific name - Podophyllum peltatum

Podophyllum, has its line in the family Berberidaceae, being an herbaceous perennial plant they are described as a genus by Linnaeus in 1753. During the past, quite a few species were included in the genre; some have been transferred to other genus. A distinguishing feature about this woodland plant is that it typically grows in colonies derived from a single root. In general, the fruit grows in colonies in leaf-losing forests, which means it takes up shade to grow well. With palmately lobed umbrella-like leaves, the fruits are produced early summer and ripen during the late summer. The stem of the tree grows to 30-40 cm tall with 3–9 shallowly to deeply cut lobes. With lots of seeds, the taste of the fruit is exotic and is green to yellow in color. Mayapple is one remaining species that is prevalent from corner to corner of most of the parts of eastern United States and Southeastern Canada. They are known by several common names such as devil’s apple, hog-apple, Indian apple, American mandrake, American May apple, Racoonberry, and wild lemon.

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Uses of Mayapple Fruit

Used widely by Native Americans, the edible fruit has lots of medicinal properties and when the fruit is fully ripe, it is eaten raw; however they can also be cooked or made into jams, jellies, marmalades, and pies. Giving away an aromatic flavor, it tastes peculiar and has a pleasant flavor.

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Health benefits of Mayapple Fruit

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It has been used as an emetic, cathartic and antihelmintic agent by American Indians. They were also used topically for treating warts; etoposide and teniposide two of its derivatives are also used in treating malignant neoplasms. Spaced out from the ripe fruit, the whole plant is considered highly poisonous in large doses. The rhizome has been used for a range of medicinal purposes and the boiled poisonous root water was consumed for stomach aches. Caution- They are toxic! Having said all that, using it as a cathartic is considered unsafe. With some Cholagogue action, it is a drastic laxative in moderate doses. Using it while pregnant, nursing should be avoided, proper consultation should be part of the play.

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Partial shade to shade- dappled shade

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Mayapple thrives in well-drained soil and grows easily using seedling transplants or seed sown in fall. It takes up partial to deep shade to grow well. Based on the weather condition, the fruits are available in late summer and blossoms during the spring i.e. July to September. Typically they are collected in northern areas when the trees are losing their leaves.

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In order to form a gathering that shades out smaller plants, Mayapple spreads from underground rhizomes. It prefers shade and grows well in dappled shade. Moreover, makes an excellent groundcover for unused areas. Seeing that they spread out from underground rhizome, it requires plenty of space to spread out and likes light, loamy soil, and a shade spot, but not too dappled. Keeping it moist instead of wet will helps and until established they should be free of weeds. Once established, they inflate grows well. However, it will take some years to start producing fruit and the fruiting happens in May as the name goes by.

The fruit when ripe turns out to be yellow in color with a very soft flesh. They can be consumed raw or made into jelly or sliced thin and dried or dried whole for use in spells.

In view of the fact that, the roots are extremely dangerous, while handling with the foliage or roots, it is good to wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or face.

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