Mayapple – A Charming Plant if Used in a Right Way
Mayapple is a very charming plant if used in the right way. In late spring each plant sends up what looks like two little, folded-up beach umbrellas. These unfold as two broad, umbrella-like leaves under which you have to peek to see the small white or pinkish flowers. However, its common name is mayapple. But it has the flower that appears in early May, not the “apple”. The fruit or “apple” is produced in early summer and ripens later in summer.
But I like them just for the foliage. Mayapple is an established clump that forms a large mat that is a sea of umbrellas all summer long. In May a small, yellow fruit (the “apple”) forms where the flowers were. You can eat the fruit but don’t ever eat the roots or leaves both are poisonous and even touching the roots can cause a rash. The other name for the plant is “wild man-drake.”
Naturally, Mayapple grows in open, damp, deciduous woods. But it likes rich, moist soil and a fairly acidic pH. It makes an excellent ground cover for shaded or semi-shaded sites. Plant or divide the rhizomes in the fall, leaving at least one bud on each division and spreading out the rhizomes 1 inch below soil level.