Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)


Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). Photo by Donna L. Long.

Description: The white flower hides beneath the wide leaves. People are often delighted after lifting the leaves to spy the white flower that glows in the shade. The Mayapple blooms throughout May. but the ‘apple” or fruit doesn’t ripen until August.

Few insects, except various bees, visit the blossoms. Without pollination, few flowers develop into fruit. The plant is not self-pollinating and depends on insects to distribute pollen.

Mayapple Growing Tips

The plant is useful as a spreading groundcover under trees, and crowd out other plants. It’s good as a woodland garden plant. The Mayapple spreads by rhizomes. Each plant is a clone of the ther plants in the colony. A plant with just one leaf is a juvenile plant. A plant with two leaves is a mature two-year old.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) a mound of leaves.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) a mound of leaves.

Mayapple Facts

Common name: Mayapple
Scientific name: Podophyllum peltatum
Family name: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)
Attracts: various bees collect the pollen, but doesn’t attract many pollinators and as such few of the plants produce fruit
Host plant to: unknown
Uses: compounds used in medicine.
Native range: Quebec to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas
Habitat: moist woods, preferably open woods
Height: 8 to 16 inches tall
Light needed: partial sun to partial shade
Hardiness zones: 3 to 9
Bloom period: spring
Bloom color: pearly white

Propagation: moderately difficult form seed; easy from division

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Works Consulted

Cullina, William. The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada. 1st ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 2000.
Gracie, Carol. Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History. 1st ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.

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