May apple

FAMILY: Berberidaceae | GENUS: PODOPHYLLUM

TYPE
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Partial Shade
  • Full Shade
WATER
  • Ample Water
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Poisonous/Toxic

Plant Details

Odd-looking yet striking plants, these herbaceous barberry (Berberis) relatives grow from thick underground rhizomes that send up stalks crowned with large, shield-shaped, deeply lobed leaves. Shoots with a single leaf are barren; those with two leaves bear a single, 2 inches-wide flower (set between the leaves) in mid- to late spring. Blossoms are followed by juicy, 2 inches berries; these are edible when fully ripe (poisonous until that stage) but can have a powerful laxative effect. Make attractive, slowly spreading deciduous ground covers for shady areas with rich, moist, woodsy soil.

himalayan mayapple

podophyllum hexandrum

  • From Himalayas, western China.
  • To 11 feet tall and wide.
  • Dark green, brown-mottled leaves to 10 inches wide are divided into three or five lobes; each lobe is further divided.
  • White or pink flowers are followed by bright red berries.

mayapple, wild mandrake

podophyllum peltatum

  • From eastern North America.
  • To 11 feet high, 1 feet wide.
  • New growth pushing up through leaf litter is one of the earliest signs of spring in woodlands.
  • Foliage is bronze when new; mature leaves are shiny dark green, to 1 feet wide, divided into five to nine lobes.
  • White flowers are followed by bright yellow berries.
  • Spreads fairly fast in its preferred rich, moist soil.
  • Dies back completely in late summer.
  • Kaleidoscope, of hybrid origin, has octagonal leaves dramatically marked with creamy silver and bronze.

chinese mayapple

podophyllum pleianthum (Dysoma pleiantha)

  • From central and southeastern China and Taiwan.
  • To 12 feet high, 1 feet wide.
  • Large (1216 inches wide), glossy green, umbrella- like leaves divided into shallow lobes.
  • Clusters of unusual-smelling, bell-shaped, maroon flowers appear in spring but are mostly concealed by the leaves.
  • Yellow or red fruit follows blossoms.
  • Looks good until the first frost in fall.

chinese mayapple

podophyllum versipelle

  • From China.
  • Large, glossy, green, lobed leaves are up to 18 inches wide and can reach up to 3 feet high.
  • Clusters of deep maroon, meaty-smelling flowers are followed by bright red, berrylike fruit.
  • Stays attractive until the first frost.
  • Spotty Dotty is lower growing, has light green leaves marked with chocolate-brown spots.

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